KC-390 Millennium performs, for the first time, a cargo launch in AntarcticaKC-390 Millennium performs, for the first time, a cargo launch in Antarctica

Supplies such as medicines, equipment and provisions are periodically taken to the Comandante Ferraz Antarctic Station

Agência Força Aérea, por Tenente Wanessa Liz

Brazil is part of the group of signatory countries of the Antarctic Treaty, an agreement that enables scientific research in the region. In the 40 years of Brazilian activities in the Frozen Continent, the Brazilian Air Force (FAB) has contributed, through air support, to make Brazil’s presence possible, since the geographical characteristics and extreme climate make it difficult to access the Arctic continent and deliver supplies to the Comandante Ferraz Antarctic Station (EACF).

For the first time, FAB’s KC-390 Millennium, an aircraft piloted by the First Squadron of the First Transport Group (1°/1°GT) – Gordo Squadron, performed the cargo launch.

FAB at the Antarctic Station

The Gordo Squadron, the unit responsible for this mission, carries cargo, food, equipment, clothing and letters to the station. This occurs on up to ten trips a year. And, since the beginning, only the C-130 Hercules, one of FAB’s aircraft, was able to operate all year round in Antarctica.

The Chief of the operations section of the Gordo Squadron, Major Joyce de Souza da Conceição, comments on the new operational phase, with the C-130 Hercules being replaced by the KC-390 Millennium, in future missions on the Antarctic Continent. “The accomplishment of this mission today represents a milestone for FAB, a historic moment for the Squadron. The C-130 aircraft, for 39 years, fulfilled with excellence the Brazilian Antarctic program and, today, each member who is part of this history can feel proud to see reflected in what was done its legacy of self-denial, dedication, professionalism”, says the pilot.

The mission, aboard this new and modern aircraft that has been part of the FAB fleet for three years, began with take-off from Galeão Air Base (BAGL), in Rio de Janeiro (RJ) on June 30 at 8:23 a.m. (Brasília time) towards the Antarctic Station, to support the Brazilian Antarctic Program (PROANTAR).

Gordo Squadron in the mission

The Gordo Squadron, responsible for the Air Resupply Mission, used the CDS (Container Delivery System) method, with the launching of the cargo packed in eight packages. Approximately 2,000 kilos of material supplies were sent to the members of the Comandante Ferraz Antarctic Station (EACF).

“The KC-390 is being put to the test to be able to launch cargo through the CDS in Admiralty Bay. “In the region, the winds turn around 100 km/h, this is a challenge for both the crew and the targeting device, which needs to position the aircraft in the launch condition, with no margin for error, thus allowing the system to make the correct calculation, predicting the launch of the cargo in the zone established by the Brazilian Navy. In this sense, it is noteworthy that the launch height is around 200 meters (600 feet) at a speed of 150kt. About 270km/h,” explains the Mission Commander, Major Flávio Diniz Pereira.

Teams involved

For the success of every mission, a number of requirements need to be checked. So, in a totally different environment and facing every challenge, several professionals were involved. The Chief of the Comandante Ferraz Antarctic Station, Frigate Captain Alessandro Domingos Gurski, highlighted the importance of the arrival of the supplies, brought by the FAB. “The biggest limitations in the station are the distance from our families and our food. We are able to supply the first with connections, but the second is limited with fresh food, fruits and vegetables, but this is possible with the help of the Brazilian Air Force during the winter flights. In the summer, we receive help from the Brazilian Navy ships coming from Punta Arenas, so we can overcome the difficulties without many problems,” says the military man.

In this process, there is also the involvement of the Load Master. For Sergeant Daniel Carvalho no Peixoto de Barros, who acts as Loadmaster in the Gordo Squadron, the responsibility for accomplishing the mission is great. “A load launching 200 meters from the ground requires a lot of attention from the crew, especially from the Loadmasters, even though it is a light load. From the moment you open the cargo door and ramp, for the launch, the attention has to be 100% on what is going to happen. To the times and movements, each light has a procedure and we have to be very attentive to that; red light, yellow light, and especially green light, which is the moment when the load is released, when we hope that everything happens in the best possible way”, he explains.

Another professional who took part in the mission was the KC-390 Mechanical Instructor of the 1st/1st GT, Sergeant Ivy Amaral da Costa. For her, joining the group as the first woman to be, for the first time, aboard the new FAB transport aircraft in the Arctic Continent, was a personal and professional satisfaction. “The aircraft in cold weather needs some care, such as removal and stocking of some components so that one can have reliability that in the next operations this equipment will work. Being the first female mechanical instructor is an honor. I appreciate the confidence of my superiors to achieve this goal, thus opening the doors for the next ones to come”, she concludes.

Comandante Ferraz Station

The EACF is an Antarctic base belonging to Brazil and is located on King George Island, about 130 kilometers from the Antarctic Peninsula, in Admiralty Bay. The structure has 17 laboratories for the study of several areas such as: medicine, chemistry, microbiology, oceanography, and meteorology.

In winter, when the sea is frozen over, access becomes even more difficult, and it is necessary to launch cargo by air to supply the EACF with medicines, equipment, and supplies. The Antarctic base, maintained by the Brazilian Navy (MB), develops several studies, denoting PROANTAR’s priority for scientific activities.

Photos: Sgt. Müller Marin / Cecomsaer and Frigate Captain Gurski / EACF *** Translated by DEFCONPress Team ***

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