ExecuJet Expands Business Aviation Operations to Antarctica

Feb. 14, 2019

ExecuJet recently announced it plans to give customers the opportunity to travel to the southernmost point of the world.

This year, ExecuJet, part of the Luxaviation Group, is collaborating with travel adventure company White Desert and utilizing the special flight ops experience of BestFly to provide flights from its Cape Town, South Africa, FBO location to Antarctica.

Before embarking on the five-and-a-half hour flight to the subcontinent, customers will receive a full weather briefing and run-down of the day’s conditions.

“Contingency plans were put in place as soon as White Desert approached us to be the supplier for these trips,” says Gavin Kiggen, vice president Africa at ExecuJet. “We contracted BestFly as we know they are a trusted Angolan company and experienced in running special operations, as well as providing industry-leading service.”

“For these flights, our minimum weather requirements are significantly higher than those we use ordinarily. The team in Cape Town receive hourly reports including weather observations and runway friction measurements from the staff at Wolf’s Fang runway in Antarctica.”

According to BestFly CEO Nuno Pereira, the operators had to complete a proving flight before being granted special ops approval.

“Support from the Aruba CDA, where the AOC is from and the aircraft is registered, was excellent,” Pereira says. “They sent a cold weather and ice landing specialist to evaluate the procedures that BestFly and ExecuJet established before the first commercial flight, and we performed admirably under cold weather conditions.

“With our full flight tracking system, a back-up plane on standby and a permanent tech team ready to deploy from Cape Town at a moment’s notice, we are ready for anything this wild landscape can throw at us.”

ExecuJet selected the Gulfstream G550 and G450 as the primary and back-up aircraft, respectively, as its able to make the initial flight and return without needing to refuel in Antarctica. What’s more, the braking ability of the aircraft is suitable for landing on a runway constructed out of blue ice.

Compacted ice has the same tensile strength as concrete. However, braking coefficiency for landing jets is the same as a wet runway, requiring the best possible systems.

“The runway surface is completely safe for the aircraft, underfoot it is slipperier than any other on Earth,” Kiggen says.

In total, ExecuJet and BestFly will run approximately 10-15 flights with White Desert over the course of four months during the southern hemisphere’s summer season, spanning November through February.