2019-2020 Science Planning Summaries
United States Antarctic Program United States Antarctic Program Logo National Science Foundation Logo
2019-2020 USAP Field Season
Air Operations

McMurdo Station

A Bell Helicopter, Operated by Air Center
New York Air National Guard (ANG) LC-130 Airplane
Twin Otter Aircraft, Operated by Kenn Borek Air

McMurdo-based aircraft, including helicopters, fixed wing aircraft, and uncrewed aircraft systems (UAS) will continue to support USAP researchers and program logistical functions.


Air Center Helicopters, Inc.

Air Center Helicopters, Inc. (ACHI) has been awarded the USAP helicopter contract and will provide helicopter support for the next five seasons, with four available aircraft (two AS350-B3e Astars and two Bell 412s) based out of McMurdo Station. The helicopters will support approved research in and around McMurdo Sound, the McMurdo Dry Valleys, the Royal Society Range, and Ross Island. Helo season start-up delays are likely, due to the deployment of all ACHI equipment, staff, and helicopters to McMurdo in early October. Once all assets are deployed, however, typical levels of helicopter support should be available.

Southern Lakes Helicopters

In addition, Antarctica New Zealand will continue to provide an AS350-B3 Astar (operated by Southern Lakes Helicopters) from mid-October through mid-February. ANZ and USAP may collaborate on helicopter tasking, if necessary and supportable.

Fixed Wing Aircraft

New York Air National Guard (ANG)

The New York Air National Guard 109th Airwing LC-130 Hercules will provide research and operational support to South Pole Station and deep-field locations including West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) Divide, Byrd Camp, Siple Dome, and AGAP South.

Kenn Borek Air

Kenn Borek Air will provide four DHC6 Twin Otter and one DC3 Basler aircraft to support a number of projects throughout the USAP area of operations. They will be based at South Pole and WAIS for much of the season, and there will be one Twin Otter based out of Union Glacier for a number of weeks.

Antarctica New Zealand

In addition, Antarctica New Zealand will be operating a Twin Otter for a period of time during the 2019-20 season.

Uncrewed Aircraft Systems

A number of USAP and Antarctica New Zealand projects will operate fixed wing and rotary wing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) in the Ross Island vicinity and deep field locations.