Update to those threads, the aircraft has completed a number of trips to the ice runway in Antarctica, some details here http://www.aad.gov.au/default.asp?casid=29240 , 11 hr return trip without refuelling.
The aircraft is a Airbus A319-115X CJ, registered VH-VHD formally (F-GYAS)
Photo © Cheng Li
"Airbus A319 takes to the skies over Antarctica
The welcome arrival of the Airbus A319 to Hobart last week signified a major milestone in the establishment of an intercontinental airlink for Australia's Antarctic programme.
Just two days later, after scores of interested Australian Antarctic Division staff had inspected the aircraft, the A319 took off for Antarctica. It carried out a successful eleven hour return flight between Hobart and Casey, flying over the Wilkins Runway and the Vanderford Glacier before retracing its path to Hobart with plenty of fuel in its tanks.
Although weather forecasting is more accurate than at any time in the past, the 'A' (for Antarctic) factor is always a force to be reckoned with. A major criterion for the selection of the plane was its ability to fly to Casey and back without refuelling, in case the weather closes in at its destination and prevents landing.
Its return to Tasmania coincided with that of the two CASA-212 aircraft which had returned from a summer in Antarctica.
Members of the Antarctic Science Advisory Committee (ASAC), meeting in Hobart at the time, took advantage of the opportunity to inspect the two aircraft and were impressed with their potential for scientific operational support. The Airbus then flew back to Melbourne, where it will undergo modifications to ready it for Antarctic operations next season.
The plane will be dressed in a new livery, the exact colour and design yet to be decided. Many of the seats will be removed and the rear re-configured to make it more suitable for cargo stowage, and, should the need arise, to carry a stretcher in the event of medical evacuation.
Specific polar navigation software and hardware will also be installed in the cockpit which will improve its suitability to fly in Antarctica.
Initially, the Airbus will have a regular seating capacity of 20 passengers, although it could carry up to 40 if required. Once fully operational, it will operate between October and March, a flying season determined by the weather conditions at the runway rather than the capacity of the aircraft.
The modified A319 will return to Tasmania at the beginning of next season, when it will ease into a regular flying service between Hobart and Casey. "