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Antarctica Personnel Head Home after Successsful Season

5 February 2015

The Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF)  is today bringing 114 scientists and military personnel home from Antarctica, with a further 114 scheduled to return to New Zealand on Saturday as the 2014/15 Antarctic season approaches its end.

A RNZAF Boeing 757 (B757) flight left Pegasus Airfield at McMurdo Sound at 3.30pm.

NZDF personnel are returning home to Linton and Burnham Military Camps, while United States Antarctic Programme staff are also beginning their journey home.

The New Zealand contingent includes the 53-strong Army ship offload team that has completed a 24-hours a day, eight-day shift unload of the Ocean Giant. The supplies bound for the US and NZ programmes included 389 crates of food, equipment, vehicles and scientific equipment. A reload of 550 crates of waste, research materials, helicopters, and equipment was also completed.

Following the landing of an RNZAF B757 in difficult weather conditions in Antarctica in October 2013, the Air Force suspended southbound passenger-carrying B757 flights.

Chief of Air Force Air Vice-Marshal (AVM) Mike Yardley said that after an Air Force investigation, changes to procedures for B757 flights to Antarctica including the calibration of equipment, meteorological minima, and risk assessment processes were implemented. Subsequent recommendations from an independent Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) report were consistent with the already implemented changes. 

AVM Yardley noted that TAIC had commended the skill and effectiveness of the crew in the investigated incident, and had provided validation of the training of personnel on Antarctic flights as robust and appropriate.

ENDS

For more information contact Defence Public Affairs 021 487 980

Background information:

OPERATION ANTARCTICA comprises a range of annual NZDF commitments, including air transport, logistical support to the NZ Antarctic Programme (NZAP) and the bulk of the NZ contribution to the NZ/US logistics pool. NZDF support is co-ordinated through collaboration with Antarctica NZ and its partner nations in the Ross Sea region by the provision of operational air assets and land based support in the form of specialist personnel skills and capabilities.

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