First Falcon 7X jet landing on Union Glacier blue-ice runway in Antarctica
Union Glacier, Antarctica – January 2, 2017
The southernmost landing of a private jet was achieved on December 28, 2017 when a Falcon 7X landed on the blue-ice runway of Union Glacier, Antarctica. Antarctic Logistics & Expeditions (ALE) organized the landing on behalf of a group of Russian and American climbers looking to summit Antarctica’s highest peak, Mount Vinson. The aircraft was operated by Aviation Consulting and flew non-stop from Punta Arenas, Chile for 3 ½ hours with 7 passengers and 5 crew.
The Falcon landing adds to ALE’s long history of aviation firsts in the interior of Antarctica. In 1985, ALE’s predecessor, Adventure Network International (ANI), pioneered private flights to the continent for an ascent of Mount Vinson. The company was the first to establish an deep-field blue-ice airfield in Antarctica; the first to land wheeled aircraft on an inland blue-ice runway; and the first tour operator to fly guests to the Geographic South Pole.
ALE’s Flight Operations
ALE brings 400-500 visitors to Antarctica each season to participate in small group experiences. Most guests fly on one of ALE’s intercontinental flights from Punta Arenas, Chile, to Union Glacier aboard an Ilyushin IL76-TD combination passenger/cargo aircraft. This aircraft is tried and tested for blue-ice landings and for use in polar conditions.
In 2015, ALE proved the feasibility of landing commercial passenger airliners on blue-ice runways with the first ever Boeing 757 landing at Union Glacier. The 757 proving flights expanded the range of wheeled aircraft landings that ALE could safely and effectively execute for clients wishing to fly privately owned or chartered business jets into Antarctica’s interior. By facilitating business jet landings in addition to its own Ilyushin passenger flights, ALE continues to meet the growing demand for enhanced passenger comfort while upholding the highest safety and environmental standards.
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About Antarctic Logistics & Expeditions – With more than 25 years of experience, ALE is the premier provider of land-based Antarctic experiences and logistical services. From its blue-ice runway and base camp at Union Glacier, guests can venture to the summit of Mount Vinson, fly to the South Pole, journey to an emperor penguin colony, or attempt an expedition in the spirit of early explorers. ALE also offers a full range of logistical services to support National Antarctic Programs and deep-field scientific research.