December 18 - Volga-Dnepr Airlines has completed its first ever airdrop by parachuting 208 barrels of fuel from one of its IL-76TD-90VD freighter aircraft onto a remote airfield in the Antarctic.

The 34-tonne shipment, which will be used for inland scientific missions, vehicles and small airplane operations, was placed on 26 special parachute platforms before being dropped from a height of 500 m through the aircraft's rear cargo door.

"This unconventional delivery formed part of the IL-76TD-90VD operational tests we conducted in November, which proved the aircraft's capability to successfully complete aerial cargo drop missions in virtually any remote regions of the South and North Poles, as well as in mountainous and forest environments," explained Sergey Kostin, senior specialist for IL-76 fleet modernization at Volga-Dnepr Airlines.

Volga-Dnepr has also obtained an addendum to the IL-76TD-90VD aircraft flight manual to enable it to operate to ice airfields and transport up to 90 people on board the freighter. Volga-Dnepr is able to provide a 'passenger service' to Antarctica by fitting removable seats into the cargo hold as required.

"To date, the joint crew on board these flights has comprised of test pilots from Russia's State Research Institute of Civil Aviation (GosNII GA) and Ilyushin Design Bureau and technical personnel from Volga-Dnepr Airlines. So far, we have operated five return flights connecting Cape Town and Novolazarevskaya Station.

 "It is safe to say that performing our first airdrop in such austere conditions has already demonstrated a wider operating scope for the commercial IL-76TD-90VD freighter than we had expected to confirm during our field trials in the Antarctic," added Kostin.