Case study 9: Inspectors revel in icy audit
In March 2012, two of CASA’s aerodrome inspectors had the experience of a lifetime when they undertook an audit of Wilkins Aerodrome, which is located on the Peterson Glacier in Antarctica.
As CASA’s standards are primarily for land-based aerodromes, the audit required a novel approach. The inspectors looked at a number of aspects relating to a glacial ice runway, such as its frictional qualities and smoothness, as well as how the runway is maintained and how the runway edges are marked.
Due to the weather conditions, the flying ‘season’ for Antarctica is only from December to mid-February. As soon as the season is finished, all equipment is packed up and left onsite in readiness for the next year, when the runway will be precisely marked out again using global positioning system technology.
The Wilkins Aerodrome audit provided CASA’s inspectors with a strong appreciation of the efforts of those working in extreme conditions to maintain the ice runway and keep it safe for air travellers.
- First landing of A319 at Wilkins ice runway, Wilkins Aerodrome (IA13297)
© Thomas Delfatti, Australian Antarctic Division
- CASA inspectors flanked by staff from the Australian Antarctic Division
- Emperor penguins, Auster Rookery (IA14827)
© Robyn Mundy, Australian Antarctic Division
- Wilkins ice runway construction, Wilkins Aerodrome (IA15879)
© Matthew Filipowski, Australian Antarctic Division
- Wilkins Runway, Wilkins Aerodrome (IA13798)
Photograph by Todor Iolovski, Australian Antarctic Division