All rugged up

The team from Southern Lakes Helicopters ensures the company AS 350 B3 Squirrel is kept protected from the freezing conditions in Antarctica.
The team from Southern Lakes Helicopters ensures the company AS 350 B3 Squirrel is kept protected from the freezing conditions in Antarctica.

Working in Antarctica provides added challenges to the job but a Te Anau based company is meeting those complications head on.

Southern Lakes Helicopters is in the frozen south after securing a three-year Antarctica New Zealand contract to support the work of scientists and researchers from Scott Base and the company is adapting to working in the extreme conditions.

Southern Lakes Helicopters operations manager Lloyd Matheson said keeping the company's heavy-lifting AS 350 B3 Squirrel ready to go was taking some extra effort.

''There is no hanger for us to store the helicopter so to be flight ready we have had to add outer protection layers,'' he said.

''The icy storms could potentially blow snow into any gaps in the framework and build up in the engine compartment.''

Mr Matheson said there were heated pads on the engine to stop the oil from freezing and a nose cover for the windscreen.

''Without these added protection methods the aircraft will not be able to go at a moments notice which is why the company is there.''

Protection from temperatures that could drop well below zero improved the safety of the pilots and passengers, improved response time and protected a valuable asset, Mr Matheson said.

He said pilot Chris Green and engineer Dave Gregory were settling in and getting ready for there extended stay in Antarctica.

The Southland Times