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  #1  
Old 12-15-2011, 02:16 PM
janeslogin janeslogin is offline
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Do commercial planes fly over Antarctica?

Do commercial planes fly over Antarctica? For example a flight from Sidney to Rio perhaps?
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  #2  
Old 12-15-2011, 02:23 PM
jacobsta811 jacobsta811 is offline
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It seems like there are few possible great circle routes that go over Antarctica and none of those have scheduled non-stop flights: http://www.airliners.net/aviation-fo...d.main/907589/
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  #3  
Old 12-15-2011, 02:35 PM
lisiate lisiate is offline
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Not since 1979. And those where sightseeing flights rather than point to point.

One of the problems with the Mercator projection is that it shrinks the Southern hemisphere. Sydney's actually at 33 degrees south (roughly the same equivalent of San Diego) and Rio's at 22 South (equivalent to Kolkata). Would you expect to fly over the North pole from San Diego to Kolkata?

Wikipedia's aricle on Polar routes summarises it well:

Quote:
In the southern hemisphere, most intercity pairs do not result in a great circle route over Antarctica. Although direct flights between South Africa and New Zealand would overfly Antarctica, there never have been direct flights between those countries.

Aerolíneas Argentinas and LAN Chile operate nonstop services from New Zealand to Buenos Aires and Santiago, respectively, and Qantas flies nonstop from Sydney to Buenos Aires, forming the most southerly polar route. Depending on flight-level winds, these can approach 55 degrees southerly latitude, though not enough to cross the polar ice cap.
55 degrees south is broadly equivalent to the Belfast's latitude.
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  #4  
Old 12-15-2011, 04:11 PM
Keeve Keeve is offline
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If something happens to a plane while flying over the southern Atlantic, Pacific, or Indian Oceans, boats can eventually reach it.

But in inaccessible Antarctica? Surely the lawyers have warned the airlines how much the lawsuit would cost them.
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  #5  
Old 12-15-2011, 04:31 PM
lisiate lisiate is offline
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Except for New Zealand to South Africa no great circle routes go over the Antarctic, so it makes no commercial sense to fly there anyway as it's not the shortest route. Liability issues are very much secondary to that.
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Old 12-15-2011, 05:26 PM
Xema Xema is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keeve View Post
But in inaccessible Antarctica? Surely the lawyers have warned the airlines how much the lawsuit would cost them.
How about flights over northern Greenland or other remote northern areas? Would the same kind of lawsuit apply there?
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  #7  
Old 12-15-2011, 06:45 PM
Cerowyn Cerowyn is offline
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When I used to fly Toronto-Tokyo regularly, the flight passed over Alaska and down the Russian coast. There's a lot of mightily-remote territory there, yet it's a daily flight for Air Canada. I doubt inaccessibility of the overflown area is a big consideration of airlines.
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Old 12-15-2011, 06:50 PM
coremelt coremelt is offline
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Originally Posted by Cerowyn View Post
I doubt inaccessibility of the overflown area is a big consideration of airlines.
Can anyone name one case where a commercial airline flight went down mid-route and there was survivors to be picked up?

Planes either crash on landing or takeoff, or through catastrophic failure mid-flight (very very rarely), in which case there are no survivors, so the accessibility of the wreckage is irrelevant.
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  #9  
Old 12-15-2011, 07:02 PM
Richard Pearse Richard Pearse is online now
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The problem is not inaccessibility but of having alternate aerodromes. You need to have somewhere to go if you have an engine failure or depressurisation mid route. On shorter sectors you can use the destination and departure airports but on longer sectors you may not be able to carry enough fuel to continue to the destination after a significant systems failure, also twin engine aircraft are more restricted on how far they can be from a suitable aerodrome at any point on their route. They are typically limited to a max of 2 to 3 hours flight time from an alternate. Whether that is a problem for Antarctic flights, I'm not sure, but it's a big consideration with route planning.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lisiate
Not since 1979. And those where sightseeing flights rather than point to point.
Qantas has done Antarctic scenic flights since then. The next one is scheduled for 31 Dec 2011.

http://www.antarcticaflights.com.au/
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  #10  
Old 12-15-2011, 07:45 PM
ElvisL1ves ElvisL1ves is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lisiate View Post
Would you expect to fly over the North pole from San Diego to Kolkata?
Sure. The route of American Airlines' 777 service from Chicago to Delhi does come pretty close to the Pole.
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  #11  
Old 12-15-2011, 07:52 PM
coremelt coremelt is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lisiate View Post

One of the problems with the Mercator projection is that it shrinks the Southern hemisphere. Sydney's actually at 33 degrees south (roughly the same equivalent of San Diego) and Rio's at 22 South (equivalent to Kolkata).
According to this site a great circle route from Sydney to Rio does actually go over the Antartic land mass:
http://www.gcmap.com/mapui?P=SYD-RIO
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  #12  
Old 12-15-2011, 08:09 PM
Bear_Nenno Bear_Nenno is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coremelt View Post
Can anyone name one case where a commercial airline flight went down mid-route and there was survivors to be picked up?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uruguay...rce_Flight_571
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  #13  
Old 12-15-2011, 08:24 PM
coremelt coremelt is offline
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Originally Posted by Bear_Nenno View Post
That kind of proves my point, it was more than 30 years ago and a small prop plane unable to fly high enough to just fly straight over the Andes, it had to fly through mountain passes.

Any examples involving a modern jet airliner I meant?

No commercial airline flies Sydney-Rio non-stop. Apparently the route would require 330 minutes ETOP rating, which the 777 is just getting certified to now.
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  #14  
Old 12-15-2011, 10:52 PM
MikeS MikeS is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coremelt View Post
Can anyone name one case where a commercial airline flight went down mid-route and there was survivors to be picked up?

Planes either crash on landing or takeoff, or through catastrophic failure mid-flight (very very rarely), in which case there are no survivors, so the accessibility of the wreckage is irrelevant.
Well, since you asked, how about United 232? If that had happened over the Arctic ice cap rather than over Iowa, I seriously doubt that as many people would have survived. I agree with your main point that such incidents are rare, but there's a lot of space between "rare" and "never".

Last edited by MikeS; 12-15-2011 at 10:54 PM..
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  #15  
Old 12-15-2011, 10:53 PM
Hail Ants Hail Ants is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coremelt View Post
That kind of proves my point, it was more than 30 years ago and a small prop plane unable to fly high enough to just fly straight over the Andes, it had to fly through mountain passes.

Any examples involving a modern jet airliner I meant?
Just off the top of my head, the worst single-plane crash, JAL 123, actually had four survivors that had to spend a cold night in the mountains before rescue. Also that hijacked Ethiopian jet that dead-stick ditched off Madagascar had almost half survive and rescued by private & tourist's boats.

But yes, it is rare. Consequently I do believe that if there were more land in the Southern Hemisphere and it therefore made economic sense you would see regular great circle routes over Antarctica. But of course, were that the case, you'd also see many more maintained airports on the southern continent to support air travel over it.
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  #16  
Old 12-16-2011, 10:33 AM
MikeS MikeS is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coremelt View Post
Can anyone name one case where a commercial airline flight went down mid-route and there was survivors to be picked up?
Here's another sort-of example: Air Transat 236, which ran out of fuel (!) over the Atlantic Ocean but was able to glide 120 km to the Azores. If they had been forced to ditch, it seems plausible that there would have been at least some survivors in need of rescue.
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  #17  
Old 12-16-2011, 05:17 PM
janeslogin janeslogin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coremelt View Post
According to this site a great circle route from Sydney to Rio does actually go over the Antartic land mass:
http://www.gcmap.com/mapui?P=SYD-RIO
That is what I was thinking. So are there flights from Sydney to Rio? Do they skirt Antarctica?
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  #18  
Old 12-16-2011, 05:46 PM
Dufus Dufus is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coremelt View Post
Can anyone name one case where a commercial airline flight went down mid-route and there was survivors to be picked up?
Mike's post reminded me of this one:

Gimli Glider
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  #19  
Old 12-16-2011, 06:42 PM
Hail Ants Hail Ants is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeS View Post
Here's another sort-of example: Air Transat 236, which ran out of fuel (!) over the Atlantic Ocean but was able to glide 120 km to the Azores. If they had been forced to ditch, it seems plausible that there would have been at least some survivors in need of rescue.
I only found out about that flight after seeing it on NatGeo's Air Emergency (aka Mayday). That was even more amazing than Gimli. So many things went wrong for it to even happen, yet so many things also went right for them to have all survived.

Reason I think this incident isn't more famous is because it happened like two weeks before 9/11...
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  #20  
Old 12-16-2011, 07:15 PM
coremelt coremelt is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by janeslogin View Post
That is what I was thinking. So are there flights from Sydney to Rio? Do they skirt Antarctica?
See post #13. There are no non-stop flights.
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  #21  
Old 12-16-2011, 08:41 PM
RickJay RickJay is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coremelt View Post
That kind of proves my point, it was more than 30 years ago and a small prop plane unable to fly high enough to just fly straight over the Andes, it had to fly through mountain passes.

Any examples involving a modern jet airliner I meant?
Japan Airlines 123, the deadliest single plane crash ever, is an obvious example; it suffered mechanical failure at cruising altitude and crashed. Four people survived and it's very likely more would have survived were it not for the appalling negligence of the Japanese government in starting a rescue effort.
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  #22  
Old 12-16-2011, 08:50 PM
coremelt coremelt is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RickJay View Post
Japan Airlines 123, the deadliest single plane crash ever, is an obvious example; it suffered mechanical failure at cruising altitude and crashed. Four people survived and it's very likely more would have survived were it not for the appalling negligence of the Japanese government in starting a rescue effort.
I don't think that counts, the accident happened 12 minutes after take off, a pressure bulkhead failed as it came up to cruising altitude. That accident couldn't really have happened in the middle of a 6 hour plus flight.
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  #23  
Old 12-16-2011, 09:13 PM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is offline
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There are plenty of things that could never happen, but that somehow or other eventually do, in air travel.
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  #24  
Old 12-16-2011, 09:33 PM
coremelt coremelt is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elendil's Heir View Post
There are plenty of things that could never happen, but that somehow or other eventually do, in air travel.
You're missing the point, I asked for accidents that occurred mid flight where there were survivors. 12 minutes from take off is not mid flight, thats still part of the take off / climb to cruise portion of the flight.

And yeah the ETOPS requirement (ability to fly to an alternate with an engine failure) is pretty much why there are no Sydney-Rio flights non-stop. The plane has to be certified for 330 minutes ETOPS to fly that route.
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