A Royal New Zealand Air Force’s (RNZAF) Boeing 757 has completed a successful maiden trial flight to Antarctica, after undergoing a modernisation process.

Air component commander Air Commodore Steve Moore said the modernisation of the navigation system, as part of the Boeing’s recent upgrade, removed many of the limitations of the aircraft to operate into the high latitudes of McMurdo.

“With the upgraded Boeing 757s we were able to look more closely at a trial flight to Antarctica,” he said.

“The aim of the flight was to look at the suitability of the B757 to carry passengers to McMurdo, and the availability and suitability of passenger handling facilities, ground support equipment, and engineering support equipment required in the event the aircraft requires any maintenance.”

A twin-engine short-to-medium-range aircraft, the Boeing 757 offers exceptional fuel efficiency, low noise levels, increased passenger comfort and top operating performance.

Equipped with advanced technology, the Boeing 757 can fly both long and short-range routes, and is effective in reducing airport congestion.

The New Zealand Defence Force currently operates around 12 C-130 Hercules flights to McMurdo Station annually, between October and April.

“Depending on the outcomes of the trial flight, it could be that the B757 would be a more efficient and effective way of transporting passengers than the C-130 Hercules or US Air Force C-17, enabling these aircraft to be more effectively utilised to carry cargo.” Moore said.