ALE services an intercontinental air bridge between Punta Arenas, Chile and the Ellsworth Mountains, West Antarctica. Weekly, scheduled passenger and cargo flights run from November through January, using an Ilyushin IL-76 TD transport aircraft with a flight time of 4 1/4 hours.
All flights depart from Presidente Carlos Ibañez del Campo airport (PUQ/SCCI) in Punta Arenas and land at Union Glacier ice runway (SCGC). Flights hold 60 passengers or two shipping containers volume of cargo, with a total capacity of 17,500 kg. Dedicated flights can be arranged for large groups of passengers or cargo. All flights are weather dependent.
Ilyushin IL-76 TD
The IL-76 was originally conceived for delivering heavy machinery to remote, poorly-serviced areas of the USSR. As such it needed to meet the requirements for a heavy-lift freighter with good speed and range, able to operate from short and unprepared airstrips, and capable of coping with the worst weather conditions likely to be experienced in Siberia and the Soviet Union’s Arctic regions.
The IL-76 has seen extensive service as a commercial freighter, especially for oversized or heavy items unable to be otherwise carried. An onboard crane can self-load and offload items up to 10 tonne, without the need for specialized airport equipment. The IL-76 has been used as emergency response transport for civilian evacuations and to deliver humanitarian/disaster relief aid around the world, especially to undeveloped areas due to its ability to operate from unpaved runways. The IL-76TD has a greater range and load capacity than the original IL-76.