Union Glacier Camp’s remote location 2000 km away from the shoreline has created many difficulties for the development of the Chilean AF research and maintenance facility. Antarctica is not only the coldest continent on earth due to sub-zero temperatures all year round, but it is also inaccessible for any groundworks, fastening to ice or construction of fixing points.
As the facility would be in operation at Union Glacier Camp for four months in a year only, the Chilean AF wanted to source a universal and cost-effective solution. Therefore, the product they needed had to meet both the extreme environmental conditions of Antarctica, as well as a very diverse climate of Chile due to their ten major climate subtypes within its borders.
Antarctica has severe restrictions on expeditions duration (from November to March), and with these time restrictions, the Chilean Air Force needed something not only durable, but also quick in design and construction, as well as easy to erect under these environmental conditions. This challenge resulted in successful partnership of our company and the Chilean Air Force.
The camp is accessible by plane only, thus limiting resources that could be brought in to develop the facility. No ballasting materials are available nearby, and the price of bringing them in is extremely high and irrational, so the Chilean AF had to think outside of the box.
Traditionally, the Angarstroy hangar frames are anchored using ballast. This method was not going to work for fixing hangar on ice during the Chilean AF mission in Antarctica and this required intense research and development to come up with a solution to ground fastening.
We provided customers with three options for fastening an inflatable hangar, allowing fix the hangar at any surface: sand, ice, concrete, asphalt. In addition, customers have a choice between fixing a hangar on the surface using anchors or ballast.
Just within 33 days a 20 meters wide and 30 meters long (600 m²) hangar was ready for shipment. Exceeding industry standards, the entire facility was rapidly shipped on LATAM Air passenger aircraft flights, saving Chilean Air Force thousands of dollars in freight charges. The delivered facility includes energy efficient modular 200 Lux LED lighting and 17×7 meters gates operated by electrical winch system.
As a result of this research, Angarstroy engineering team was able to develop a new universal anchoring method. This unique solution provides to customers greater flexibility between three anchoring options, allowing their hangar to be fixed to any surface from ice to concrete and beyond. On top of that, the customers now have the choice of securing the hangar to the surface either by anchors or ballast.
Delivery volume includes standard additional options:
- A power back-up system, which ensures hangar remains inflated up to 16 hours during power outages
- Telematic system, allowing remote access to hangar data via cellular network
The world’s fourth oldest independent military air unit, the Chilean Air Force (Spanish: Fuerza Aérea de Chile, FACh) has a total staff of more than 14,000 personnel and over 180 aircrafts and helicopters.
As part of their mission, the Chilean Air Force provides personnel transportation, logistical support and means for the Antarctic Scientific Expedition research. These specific expeditions require a flight as far as 3,000 kilometers. A six-hour flight by C-130 departs from Punta Arenas on the southern tip of Chile to Union Glacier Blue-Ice Runway located just 2,000 kilometers from the South Pole.
Chilean Air Force made its first flight to Antarctica in 1947.