Volga Dnepr carries out first Antarctic air drop

Volga Dnepr Ilyushin IL-76 in the Antarctic

Volga-Dnepr Airlines has carried out its first ‘air drop’ dropping cargo out of the rear door of an Ilyushin IL-76TD-90VD onto a remote airfield in the Antarctic.

The 34 tonne shipment consisted of 208 barrels of fuel and was placed onto 26 special parachute platforms. They were dropped from a height of 500 metres through the rear door.

Volga Dnepr Airlines senior specialist for IL-76 fleet modernisation, Sergey Kostin says: “This unconventional delivery formed part of the IL-76TD-90VD operational tests we conducted in November, which proved the aircraft’s capability to successfully complete aerial cargo drop missions in virtually any remote regions of the South and North Poles, as well as in mountainous and forest environments.”

The airline says it has obtained an addendum to the IL-76TD-90VD flight manual to operate on ice airfields and transport up to 90 people onboard the aircraft by fitting removable seats into the cargo hold.

It has been using the IL-76 for Antarctic services since 4 November this year when it made its first landing on an ice airfield and performed ‘ice runs’ to check the performance and thrust reverser application procedures.

Kostin says Volga Dnepr has operated five return flights between Cape Town in South Africa and the Novolazarevskaya Station in the Antarctic. He says: “It is safe to say that performing our first air drop in such austere conditions has already demonstrated a wider operating scope for the commercial IL-76TD-90VD freighter than we had expected to confirm during our field trials in the Antarctic.”