Icelandair flies its Boeing 767 TF-ISN to Antarctica

Icelandair has recently flown one of its Boeing 767 aircraft to the other side of the globe to Antartica at the end of February. The jet departed Keflvaik on 24th February bound for Cape Town, in South Africa before heading to Troll research station on Antarctica.

Icelandair Crew in Antarctica. Image: Icelandair.

The flight was operated by Loftleidir Icelandic, the charter subsidiary of Icelandair and has previously operated one off charter flights to Antarctica but with Boeing 757-200 aircraft. The flight time from KEF to CPT was around 12 hour with a crew of 13 and 6 pilots to ensure the flight went smoothly. For the flight back the aircraft picked up Norwegian sciensts to bring them back to Norway after their work in Antarctica over the summer.

After refuelling in Cape Town the flight from there to Antarctica took 5 hours and 43 minutes totalling 4332km, following a short 2 hour stop the 767 headed back to Cape Town to collect fresh crew before departing to Norway to drop off the Norwegian scientists.

Watch Icelandair Boeing 767 landing in Antarctica

The Boeing 767 jet long journey finally ended with a flight back to Keflavík at 14:47 GMT on February 28th 2021, bad weather was forecast in Antarctica, but flight commander August Hakansson played down the conditions by saying the worst weather of the entire trip was witnessed when actually landing back in Iceland.

Logbook entry from co-pilot Bjartmar Örn Arnarson

Departed early from Cape Town, headed south for Antarctica. Low stratus clouds blocking our views of the King Haakon VII Sea beneath.

After 4 hours’ flight the cloud base cleared in the direction of the ice shelf and we got a glimpse of Dronning Maud Land. The icebergs breaking constantly off from the mainland of ice and snow that covers this massive ice-bound continent. From our flight-deck seats we could see the vertical 30-40 meter high ice wall that marks the beginning of solid ice leading inland to the Troll station some 250km from the edge. Contacted Johannesburg for descent out of controlled airspace and into the Antarctic, land of few people and little life but magnificent nature of desolation and untouched wasteland.

The Norwegians have built a runway on the blue ice that is special because of its strength and structural nature. It has been beaten down with constant hurricane-force wind that has squeezed the air bubbles out of the ice, and it appears deep blue. And because of its solidness it can hold a massive airplane as the B767 and is really smooth.

At that time when crossing into the Antarctic territory we got a message from Troll. There was a problem with the runway. They had found a hole and were preparing to repair. The Troll crew managed to temporarily repair the hole and mark it properly. A little setback but we can still continue our task.

Icelandair Boeing 767-300 TF-ISN in Antarctica. Image: Icelandair

Now in radio contact with Troll Station, the weather looked good. Some low stratus clouds coming in from the west but good visibility to the north and east where we were planning our landing. Flying downwind we visually located the runway and made a great smooth landing on the blue ice.

A warm welcome met us on the ice from the Norwegian crew. Their equipment serviced the airplane, and pictures were taken and greetings exchanged. It was a pure pleasure to see the close-knit group of various talents in high spirits after many months of research and specialized work.

After less than 2 hours’ visit we needed to head back to civilization. In a light northeasterly breeze of temperature of -15°C we took off to the east and headed towards Oslo, Norway on the other side of the globe, with a short stop in Cape Town.