Grounded flight could thwart Barneo runway work; check fractured ice map – UPDATED

Without this flight, we cannot continue the construction of the ice runway. Plus, Trudy Wohlleben sent over an informative map.

(Correne Coetzer, updated to reflect status of AN-74)

From Barneo staff in Longyearbyen, Irina Orlova reported, “not good news for you”. Still no permission for the Antonov-74 to fly from Norwegian territory to Russia, the flight is essential for the continuation of the construction of the ice runway.

Here goes Irina’s report:

“The second working day came to its end but we did not get a permission from the Norwegian authorities to fly An-74 to Murmansk. Without this flight, we cannot continue the construction of the ice runway. I do not understand why the Norwegian authorities are dragging the decision out. Back in Russia we received from Norwegians all permits for the flights but here we were requested to fill out the additional documents. We prepared all requested documents in time but have not received the permit by the end of the working day. Weekend is coming and it looks like nobody in Norway will deal with the case.”

“There are people at Barneo who have been working for a week. They have limited amount of fuel, food and medicine. Here in Longyearbyen tourists from all over the world are waiting for the flights to Barneo. We are responsible for the lives of people on the ice, we bear the responsibility in front of the tourists, who , like us, found themselves to be the hostages of the incomprehensible situation. Fourteen years we had been working in Longyearbyen and never had such problems like now.”

“So far, we, Barneo team, are powerless in this situation.”

“The international department of the Federal Air Transport Agency in Moscow is working on the issue now.”

“I will keep you informed about any changes, both positive and negative.”

Updated April 8, 2016, 15:54 EDT to reflect status of AN-74

The Antonov is in the air to Murmansk, reported Irina. Permission granted by Norwegian authorities after intervention of Norwegian Polar Explorers Inge Solheim and Bengt Rotmo waiting in Longyearbyen, and Borge Ousland in Alaska to start a new Ice Field crossing.

Next obstacle: the Norwegian authorities have not granted permission for the AN-74 to return from Murmansk to Longyearbyen, without any explanation.

NOAA infrared image

Explorersweb North Pole contributor, Trudy Wohlleben, a specialist in Arctic Ice and Weather conditions, sent over an annotated NOAA infrared image showing where the fractured ice is. (see image)

Check Polar Jargon as explained on

Barneo is a temporary Ice Camp, built by the Russians every North Pole ski season. The camp is built on a suitable ice floe inside 89 degrees North. Primarily the ice floe should be suitable to build a runway of at least 1200m long for an Antonov-74 to land from Longyearbyen, Svalbard. They, therefore, need a floe of at least 2km long and at east 40 meters away from the nearest open water (lead).

This year when the ice floe was found on March 25, an Ilyushin-76 flew from Russia, dropped two tractors by parachute, as well as staff and other equipment to start clearing the runway. The tent camp that is built every year, serves as a base camp for skiers, tourists, runners and scientists.

On March 27, a Boeing-575 from Moscow Vnukovo Airport landed at Longyearbyen (Svalbard) with special cargo for Barneo (gear not intended for airdrops, like scientific equipment) and two team members who for the storehouse, sorting and preparing things for the season.

The town of Longyearbyen is situated on the biggest Island in the Svalbard archipelago, Spitsbergen, inside the Arctic Circle.

The Geographic North Pole is at 90 degrees North.

A degree of latitude is 110 km / 70 miles / 60 nautical miles.

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Previous/Related on Explorersweb/

North Pole area turned into Rubble and Lead Field – Barneo update UPDATED

Barneo Ice Camp:

Website RGO = Russian Geographical Society


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