Loftleidir Icelandic airline lands commercial Boeing 757 passenger jet on Antarctica for the first time

An Icelandic airline has landed a commercial Boeing 757 passenger jet on Antarctica for the first time.

The Loftleidir Icelandic airliner touched down on a blue ice runway at Union Glacier on Thursday, according to a statement from Antarctic Logistics & Expeditions (ALE).

The flight was "undertaken to prove the feasibility of landing commercial passenger airliners at Union Glacier", ALE said.

Loftleidir Icelandic staff celebrate after making the first landing of the commercial Boeing 757 in Antarctica.

Currently ALE transports between 400 and 500 passengers to Antarctica each season, providing support to national Antarctic programmes and scientific research projects, as well as offering guided, small group experiences.

Passengers would usually fly on combination passenger/cargo aircraft, which were tried and tested for blue ice landings and polar conditions, the company said.

It said it was now researching the potential for using conventional passenger airliners in addition to these combination aircraft.

"The Boeing 757-200 ER, fitted with 62 business class seats, will enhance passenger comfort yet maintain the safety of ALE's activities and aircraft resources."

The Royal New Zealand Air Force first landed the Boeing 757 in Antarctica in 2009.


Also in 2009, the Australian Antarctic Division landed a commercial airliner, the Airbus A319, at its polar base.

In October 2013, a RNZAF Boeing 757 flight to Antarctica with 130 onboard, including Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully, was forced to make an emergency landing in white-out conditions. 

Transport Accident Investigation Commission report into the incident questioned the suitability of the 757 for Antarctic operations and recommended a review of risk-assessment procedures for use of the aircraft.

The size of the 757 meant it could not land at most airfields, leaving few alternatives in a crisis, it said.

See also: Flight test - Turkish Airlines economy

See also: Qantas considers non-stop flights to London on new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner