A jetliner built to fly at 16,000 miles per hour landed in Antarctica

An Airbus A340 came in for a surprise landing at the South Pole on Monday after preparing to fly nearly 22,000 miles from Cape Town, South Africa, to Liverpool, the United Kingdom. An airplane that takes seven hours to fly the distance to the South Pole but only takes off for a much shorter distance, the Airbus A340’s large wings can make it look like it is floating through the atmosphere.

The Airbus A340, which also made its debut at the Museum of Flight in Seattle in September, made the 248-mile journey from Patagonia to the Pole. It is the only commercially designed aircraft to land in Antarctica after successfully detaching from its hydropowered air support system that powered the engines. The longer flight time allowed the aircraft to refuel at sea and passengers had a heated cabin temperature of minus 20 degrees.

The same air system that powered the plane’s engines operated to provide electrical power to the facility during the flight, allowing the plane to send out radio signals and send out a weather report from above in order to fly safely home.

The landing was assisted by weather conditions such as wind shear, high relative humidity, and low temperatures. Four months after the record landing, Airbus is looking to take the plane back to Patagonia for another turn around. The plane’s next historic landing is due in Chile on January 13.

Read the full story at Discovery.


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