Czech budget airline Smartwings has made the first-ever landing of a Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in Antarctica. The landing at Troll Airfield at the northern tip of Antarctica took place on January 26, 2022. The flight was chartered to transport members of the Norwegian Polar Institute to their base in Antarctica.

The landing came after a 15,680-kilometer flight from Oslo to Antarctica via Chad and Cape Town. The flight lasted 6 hours and the plane stayed in Antarctica for 2 hours, before taking off for Oslo again.

The 3,000 metres long runway covered with ice is used for landing and takeoff. The thick of the ice was measured and analyzed prior to operation to allow takeoff and landing according to regulations and aircraft manufacturer standards keeping all the safety margins.

Landing on a glacier requires a specially trained crew. All crew members had to undergo special training to become familiar with the area and the airstrip.

The weather was closely monitored 5 days prior to the operation. For this type of operation, the company’s air traffic control will assign at least one dispatcher who will constantly monitor and evaluate the condition of the airstrip and the weather and will remain in touch with the crew in case of any changes.

Smartwings Boeing 737 MAX in Antarctica
© Sven Lidström

Last year, an Airbus A340 operated by Hi Fly was the first Airbus aircraft to accomplish this difficult landing.

Smartwings Group aircraft fly to more than 400 airports around the world per year. Until now Antarctica has been the only continent where Smartwings plane has not landed yet.