PT6A Engines Make Record-Setting Twin Otter ‘King of the Antarctic Sky’ 

A heroic Kenn Borek crew from Calgary, Alberta, has completed its mission to fly two people working at the Amundsen-Scott Research Centre at the South Pole north to Punta Arenas, Chile, for medical attention. 

Kenn Borek’s Twin Otter aircraft, one of two deployed from Calgary for the mission, is powered by PT6A-34 engines known for their dependability – a relevant fact since the aircraft had to make a 20-hour return trip over some of the harshest terrain on the planet at temperatures that defy comprehension. 

According to a report in the Calgary Herald, aircraft do not fly to the South Pole from February to October because of the challenges of flying in the pitch dark and cold. Wednesday it was minus 60˚ C (minus 75˚ F) according to the station’s webcam. The first day of winter in the Southern Hemisphere was Monday and the sun will not rise again until the first day of spring which falls in September. 

“Flying in this type of weather and under such conditions requires an exceptional aircraft, powered by unbeatable engines and a flight crew that is skilled, experienced, and dedicated to the mission despite the risks,” says Denis Parisien, Vice President, General Aviation, P&WC. “Virtually thousands of employees have worked on the PT6 engine program for more than five decades and it’s moments like this that speak to their remarkable legacy of their work. It’s an engine without parallel, with outstanding reliability,and obviously capable of remarkable feats.” 


Photo Covers Courtesy: Kenn Borek

Mission Photos Courtesy: National Science Foundation

Photo by National Science Foundation

In the News

June 20, 2016

Kenn Borek – Antarctica Flight 

PT6A Engines to Brave Mother Nature’s ‘Cold Shoulder’ in Antarctica Rescue Mission

 Two Twin Otter aircraft owned by Calgary’s Kenn Borek Air, now sit at the very tip of Chile in South America, their P&WC engines on standby. The pilots are waiting for weather clear enough to allow one of the aircraft to fly a further 2,400 kilometers south to the Amundsen-Scott Research Station at the South Pole. June is considered mid-winter in the Antarctica when Mother Nature is at her darkest and coldest, and routine flights simply don’t happen. 

Fortunately, the aircraft are far beyond routine, powered by PT6A-34 engines which have proven mission-ready in temperature extremes at both ends of the thermometer. In this case, the mission is to rescue an employee at the station who requires hospitalization. Kenn Borek Air flew this same mission twice before, in 2001 and 2003, also for medical reasons. These were the only such flights to have taken place during this time of year in the 60-year history of the Amundsen-Scott Research Station. 

Normally, no flights to or from the Research Station are scheduled between February and October because of the harsh weather. The Twin Otter will land on skis once it reaches its destination. The two aircraft originally left Calgary on June 14. Check back here for mission updates as they become available.

Photo by National Science Foundation

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