The Il-76TD-90VD designed by PJSC Il, United Aircraft Corporation, has started the operation of a new snow and ice aerodrome at Progress Antarctic station. The aircraft flew from Capetown to the Progress and covered 5,300 km within 6.5 hours.
A total of 82 passengers were delivered to Antarctica, including Zapsibgazprom personnel involved in the construction of the new wintering facility at Vostok station and the 68th Russian Antarctic Expedition crew. The airplane also brought 6.6 tons of cargo to ensure construction of the wintering facility.
The Il-76TD-90VD allowed to enhance safety of flights to Antarctica from the continent. With previous types of aircraft, it was necessary to make a decision on whether to continue the flight or return to the aerodrome of departure, when no alternate aerodrome is available in unstable Antarctic weather conditions, directly over the ocean.
In case of unexpected weather deterioration at an Antarctic aerodrome, the Il-76TD captain was facing a tough choice: either to return or to take the risk of flying to the aerodrome and landing in any case, even when the runway was closed due to poor weather conditions.
The Il-76TD-90VD captain can make a decision on whether to return or land directly over an Antarctic aerodrome thanks to the increased flight range compared with Il-76TD.
The Progress station runway was launched in 2012 with only small airplanes capable of landing on it. Now, the aerodrome can also accommodate the heavy Il-76TDs. Four Capetown – Progress – Capetown flights are scheduled in this season to deliver construction personnel to Vostok new wintering facility.