1 June 2016

New Trailer to support US Antarctic Program

Recently Air BP has taken delivery of a brand new 5 axle trailer built by Lowes Industries in Christchurch. As part of the ongoing upgrade of their fleet, the trailer features SAF IntraDisc integrated axles and suspensions, WABCO braking and intelligent trailer program, and Alcoa alloy wheels.

The United States Antarctic Program is based at Christchurch International Airport. Each year the Intercontinental Airlift season runs from the beginning of October through to early March. During this period over 100 return flights are scheduled from Christchurch, delivering essential supplies to McMurdo Sound, Antarctica. Air BP at Christchurch has been meeting the fuel requirements of these flights for over a decade with a fleet of specialized refuelling vehicles.

Greg Hill, Air BP' Airport Manager - Christchurch International Airport, says the addition of the new tanker trailer has been an excellent addition to Air BP's fleet.

"This trailer was designed to meet both the NZ EPA Flammable Liquids Tank Wagon Code and Air BP's international standards for refuelling vehicle design" says Greg.

"It is proving to be an excellent addition to our fleet with great handling and manoeuvrability for the tight environment often faced on the airport apron around large aircraft. The build quality is first rate and the follow up service provided by Lowes is excellent" said Greg.

The US Air force operates Boeing C-17 Globemaster and C-130 Hercules aircraft. The C-17 is able to complete a return trip to the Antarctic continent in 12 hours, during which time it will consume approximately 110,000 litres of fuel. The C-130's are deployed to the ice on three weekly rotations, flying missions around Antarctica. These aircraft are equipped with skis to aid landing on the ice runways, military staff refer to these aircraft as 'skiers'.

In conjunction with the US Antarctic Program, the RNZAF also operates C-130 Hercules aircraft to the ice. These aircraft complete return trips over a 24 hour period.

To service these aircraft Air BP has a mixture of smaller trucks and large truck and trailer combinations. All of these units only operate on the airport.

Operating aircraft to Antarctica poses some unique challenges, not least the extreme cold. Jet A-1 aviation turbine fuel can freeze at very low temperatures; therefore, an anti-icing additive is injected into the fuel to decrease this risk. Christchurch's specialist fleet of refuelling vehicles have anti-icing agent injectors fitted, this enables the additive to be injected as the fuel is pumped onto the aircraft.

The Antarctic season is a very busy time for all staff at Christchurch Airport. They are somewhat at the mercy of the Antarctic weather, flights are often postponed resulting in days where flights can back up, resulting in quick turnarounds. This requires dedicated flexible staff, and well maintained reliable equipment to meet the needs of customers.