Australia releases request for tender for Antarctic charter services

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The Australian Antarctic Division has released a request for tender for the provision of charter services between Australia and Antarctica.

Since late 2007 an adapted Airbus A319LR, operated by Sydney-based Skytraders, has been providing the air link from Hobart, Tasmania, to the Wilkins blue ice runway near Australia's Casey research centre, transporting researchers and cargo during the southern hemisphere summer.

The new contract will start in July 2012 and will run for three years, with the charter period limited to three months a year.

The aircraft must be capable of carrying at least 12 researchers plus their baggage and a minimum of 500kg (1,100lb) of cargo. It will also be required for medical evacuation - equipped with an intensive care module and two basic stretcher modules - as well as search and rescue and training flights.

The aircraft must be able to operate long oceanic sectors, with no refuelling possible at Wilkins; over ice and snow terrain where poor surface and horizon definition may exist; into known icing conditions; and under instrument flight rules and instrument meteorological conditions.

The aircraft requires two independent GPS airborne navigation devices; navigation systems suitable for polar navigation at high latitudes; a satellite phone; and a position tracking system. The RFT closes on 12 October.