Serving scientific research

Created in 1992, the Paul-Emile Victor Polar Institute (IPEV(1)) is tasked with implementing the scientific programmes in the polar regions. The majority of these programmes are directly related to global warming and its impact on ecosystems and biodiversity. The helicopter takes part in the expeditions.

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In autumn, the AS350 B3 Ecureuil chartered from the company Héli-Challenge is transported by ship or cargo plane to Australia. It is then loaded on the ship that the IPEV charters every year from October to March for scientific assignments in Antarctica. The AS350 B3 Ecureuil begins operations on site at the Dumont d'Urville scientific station in early December. In all, this aircraft notches up between 150 and 200 flight hours over 75 to 80 days. The helicopter spends 70% of this time transporting loads, or it ferries people between the various work areas on rocky islands and glaciers, and from the deck of the ship. These work areas are located in an area with a diameter of approximately 10 km. But the AS350 B3 Ecureuil can also perform emergency and/or technical assistance missions exceptionally well and, from time to time, the helicopter can fly inland by following the path made by the surface convoys connecting the Dumont d'Urville and Concordia stations. Furthermore, its reliability and the long intervals between major maintenance tasks make this an aircraft that is truly available in the field. “The performance of the AS350 B3s offered by Héli-Challenge is completely satisfactory when making a consolidated price-performance comparison with other aircraft on the market,” states Patrice Godon, head of the IPEV’s polar logistics department.

(1) The IPEV is an organisation that offers support to the laboratories of the French public research institutes in the form of infrastructures, means of access, and financial and human resources for the development of polar research in the fields of biology, geophysics, glaciology and astronomy.


The work of the IPEV

In the polar regions, the activities of the IPEV take place both in the northern hemisphere – Spitzbergen and Greenland, and the southern hemisphere – the Sub- Antarctic islands of the Indian Ocean, Adélie Land, off the coast of Antarctica, and the new Franco-Italian Concordia Station in Antarctica, which is 1,100 km inland from the coast. In Antarctica, the IPEV is responsible for the entire logistics supply chain which supplies and transports technical and scientific personnel to the Dumont d’Urville Station in Adélie Land and to the Concordia Station. The IPEV maintains the technical infrastructures and, of course, the scientific installations. It also provides accommodation and catering for personnel, and runs the medical unit.