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Media Release
The Hon. Dr Sharman Stone MP
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Federal Member for Murray

19 July 2004

Antarctic airlink update


Australia's first Antarctic intra-continental airlink is on track to commence flying in November this year.

Dr Sharman Stone, Parliamentary Secretary with responsibility for Antarctica said the first of two specially modified CASA 212-400s had successfully completed trial flights in Spain and was currently in Canada having specially built skis fitted.

"The two CASAs will be fitted with skis specially designed in Canada so that they will be able to land on ice and snow in Antarctica," Dr Stone said.

"This is the first time the CASA 212 have been fitted with skis. The distinctive design demonstrates the planning that has gone into ensuring that these aircraft provide logistical support for Australia's Antarctic program and will enable scientists to carry out important research throughout Antarctica.

"While the first CASA is in Canada having the skis fitted, the second aircraft is finishing test flights in Seville, Spain. On completion both aircraft will fly to Australia prior to their first official Antarctic trip in November this year.

"Before leaving for Australia, the CASA 212 that's currently in Spain will be on display at the Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programs (COMNAP) annual meeting in Bremen in Germany on 30 July."

Dr Stone said the aircraft would be used in Antarctica to ferry personnel and equipment between Australia's three Antarctic continent stations - Mawson, Davis and Casey. A new runway was being groomed near Casey station in preparation for the start of the intra-continental link later this year. The first leg of the flights will commence from Hobart in Tasmania.

An inter-continental Antarctic airlink is still being developed by the Government. Dr Stone thanked the Tasmanian Liberal Senators for their ongoing support of Australia's Antarctic program.

Aircraft details:

CASA - a subsidiary of European Aeronautic Defence and Space company (EADS) makers of Ariane, Airbus and Eurocopter.

CASA 212-400:

Commonwealth of Australia