You may have heard that it’s illegal to fly over Antarctica. This is true, but only if you are referring to flying directly above the continent. There are restrictions on flights above and near Antarctica, but these are for your own safety as well as to protect the environment there. However, these regulations do not apply to those who wish to fly over the waters nearby or fly over an adjacent island or land area that isn’t considered part of the Antarctic. Antarctica is a remote region where every person and plane needs to be thoroughly documented before being permitted entry. Flying over this area means your plane must meet stringent standards set by various aviation authorities from around the world. As such, it is not illegal to fly over Antarctica; rather, there are regulations in place regarding who can fly over and how they can do so safely.
Is It Illegal To Fly Over Antarctica?
Yes, it is illegal to fly over Antarctica. The Southern and Antarctic Territories Act of 1982 (as amended) generally prohibits flights in Antarctica. However, for specific purposes, such as for scientific research or supply of an installation in Antarctica, the act allows for such flights. The Act also prohibits entry into Southern and Antarctic Territories (which consists of all land and ice south of the 66th south parallel south) without a permit issued by the Secretary of the Interior. No permits are currently required to enter this area.
Why Is It Illegal To Fly Over Antarctica?
1. Climate Conditions
Flying over Antarctica means you have to deal with the weather. The Southern Hemisphere has three seasons: summer, autumn, and winter. In the summer, the sun never sets; it stays above the horizon all day long. In the winter, it’s dark 24 hours a day and extremely cold. The weather in the area is unpredictable and extreme. There are plenty of storms, and the visibility is so poor that some pilots have reported not being able to see their own wings. It’s also an extremely dry climate, with very little precipitation. Flying over Antarctica also means dealing with mountains, valleys, and ice sheets. You’ll be able to see the crevasses, which are gaps in the ice sheets that are formed due to the melting of this ice over time.
2. The Dark and Infrared Blindness
The dark is a problem because the human eye isn’t designed to see in the dark; it’s designed to see in the light. Your eyes are the most sensitive to light between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. After that, your eyes are just as sensitive to light – but it’s too much light to pick up on things like mountains, valleys, and crevasses. To deal with this issue, pilots use infrared sensors to scan for mountains and valleys in the dark. But flying over Antarctica during the summer is a problem because it’s so dark, and these drones are completely useless in the dark. So you can’t use drones to navigate or scan for crevasses and other dangers.
3. The Colour-Blind Issue
There is no GPS system over Antarctica because it’s too cold. The satellite systems used to navigate planes around the world rely on ground systems to give them a place to send the data. But the ground systems are useless when they’re frozen solid. This means that all the planes flying over Antarctica have to be hand-navigated. But there is one big problem: all the charts used to hand-navigate planes are in black and white. This means that all the color-blind pilots in the world have to rely on visual navigation with no way to tell if there are mountains, valleys, or crevasses ahead.
4. There Is No GPS System
Because it’s extremely cold and dry, there is almost no moisture in the air above Antarctica. Even though it’s the tropics, there is a lot of moisture in the air, which is where clouds form. And without moisture in the air, there are no clouds. But there is another reason why there are no clouds over Antarctica: the sunlight is blocked by the ground. Since the ground is covered in ice sheets, sunlight doesn’t have anywhere to go, so it’s reflected upwards and away from the ground. Since there are no clouds, there is no GPS system. The GPS system relies on the reflection of sunlight off water droplets in the clouds so that it can locate your position. So to get over this issue, pilots have to either fly with no navigation (beyond visual range) or ascend through the cloud bank to get the sunlight.
5. It’s a Military Base
Flying over Antarctica can also be illegal because of its military base. The base is owned and operated by the United States. It’s located in the Ross Dependency, which is on the other side of the continent from the tip of South America. There is one thing that all those people in the military base need: fresh water. But there is no fresh water near the base, so the engineers designed a system to bring the water from a nearby glacier. There is a 200-kilometer-long pipe that leads from the glacier to the base, which is the only thing providing water to the scientists living there.
What Regions Are Included In The Antarctic Restrictions?
- There are two regions that fall under the Antarctic flight restrictions: the Antarctic Restricted Zone (ARZ) and the Special Areas.
- The ARZ is a large area that includes everything south of 60° south latitude and west of 90° longitude. The Special Areas are smaller sections that are further defined below. The ARZ covers the continent itself but also some islands and ice shelves that are in the vicinity.
- The Special Areas are two restricted areas that fall outside the ARZ where research stations and fisheries operate. These are the Ross Sea and the Marguerite Bay.
Who Is Allowed To Fly Over Antarctica?
- Any aircraft that flies over this region must have permission from the national aviation authority in the country under whose laws it is registered. Only aircraft that are authorized to land in Antarctica can fly into the ARZ above 60° south latitude.
- In all cases, the aircraft must be equipped with accurate and current navigation and communication equipment. All flights must be planned and conducted according to the highest safety standards.
- Specific procedures may apply depending on the destination and the flight path. Commercial aircraft may be allowed to fly over the ARZ if they are operating in support of an approved research project in the region.
- Prior authorization must be granted by the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Committee responsible for managing the international agreement covering all aspects of the continent.
How Can You Fly Over Antarctica Without Breaking Any Rules?
1. You need to have a flight plan approved before you can fly over Antarctica. The Antarctic Treaty Organization (ATO) is in charge of approving all flight plans for commercial aircraft operations over Antarctica.
2. You must use aircraft with two pilots and a flight engineer, and these people must be qualified to operate in polar regions. The aircraft should also carry survival equipment, including an emergency radio beacon, life rafts, food rations for several weeks, medical supplies, etc. The aircraft should also carry survival equipment, including an emergency radio beacon, life rafts, food rations for several weeks, medical supplies, etc.
3. You must notify the nearest ATO office or your country’s national aviation authority at least twenty-four hours in advance of your planned departure time from any point outside Antarctica.
4. You must keep in touch with the nearest ATO office or your country’s national aviation authority while you are inside Antarctica, and you must keep them informed of your flight plan and any changes to it.
5. You must notify the nearest ATO office or your country’s national aviation authority at least twenty-four hours in advance of your planned departure time from any point inside Antarctica.
6. You must obtain permission from the authorities in charge of the area where you want to land. The authorities will make sure that there is adequate fuel available for your aircraft at this location, and that there is a safe means of sheltering from the weather conditions that might be experienced there during the time you want to be on the ground.
Flying over Antarctica can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. However, only experienced pilots are qualified to undertake such a flight. While it is not illegal to fly over Antarctica, pilots have to follow specific procedures to make sure that their flight remains safe. The best way to make sure that your flight is a success is to hire a specialized aviation consultancy service.