C-17 Lands at Phoenix Airfield, Antarctica
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Fully-loaded C-17 uses compacted deep-snow airfield built by Corps of Engineers R&D. HD Video by Terry Melendy | U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Engineer Research and Development Center | 11.15.2016 -- PHOENIX AIRFIELD, Antarctica (Nov. 15, 2016) -- A McChord Air Force Base C-17 Globemaster III crew and the Army Corps of Engineers teamed up to make the first landing and takeoff of a wheeled and fully-loaded cargo aircraft on a compacted-snow runway an otherwise routine event.

A collaboration be...

Fully-loaded C-17 uses compacted deep-snow airfield built by Corps of Engineers R&D. HD Video by Terry Melendy | U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Engineer Research and Development Center | 11.15.2016 -- PHOENIX AIRFIELD, Antarctica (Nov. 15, 2016) -- A McChord Air Force Base C-17 Globemaster III crew and the Army Corps of Engineers teamed up to make the first landing and takeoff of a wheeled and fully-loaded cargo aircraft on a compacted-snow runway an otherwise routine event.

A collaboration between the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center's Cold Regions Lab and the National Science Foundation's Office of Polar Programs, the surface design required the development of unique certification standards and was engineered to provide a reliable wheeled-runway solution to replace Antarctica's Pegasus Ice runway.

“This novel runway design and construction took more than 16 continuous months to complete,” said Terry Melendy, a CRREL research civil engineer. “The runway was designed using a compaction technique to modify the deep snow using heavy rollers weighing up to 160,000 pounds, to change the snow’s strength properties from its natural state creating a denser, higher strength snow foundation (32 inches deep) that can withstand the impact of a C-17 landing. And, in this particular case, the Phoenix was designed to withstand approximately 60 wheeled flights a year.”

Throughout design and construction, the team maintained close liaison with NSF and Air Mobility Command standards and evaluation personnel and with the Air Force's Antarctic C-17 flight group.

“The runway was certified in the field for heavy, wheeled aircraft by the Air Mobility Command,” said Melendy. “With the successful completion of the Phoenix runway, we have done something that no one else has done.”

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Published on Sep 14, 2018
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