Air Operations team

Our ambition

Is to operate and manage an integrated fleet of aircraft for research, survey and polar logistics.

We aim to execute a challenging programme of airborne science and logistics and to provide a worldwide capability that gives the environmental science community access to a range of aircraft platforms and instrumentation. The fleet comprises the five specially adapted aircraft (De Havilland Canada Dash 7 and four Twin Otters).

At the beginning of each season the aircrew – eight pilots and four engineers – ferry the aircraft south from their base in the northern hemisphere. Flights in the Antarctic take place during the Antarctic summer, between October and March, as winter darkness and very cold temperatures prevent flying at other times.

The hangar at Rothera Research Station, Antarctica.
The hangar at Rothera Research Station, Antarctica.

Team priorities

  • To undertake a wide variety of transport and science missions using a fleet of aircraft equipped with modifications to allow them to carry out airborne science surveys
  • Transport science and support teams to Antarctica by facililtating regular shuttle-flights from Rothera to and from the Falkland Islands and Punta Arenas, Chile during the austral summer
  • Ensure that all aircraft are maintained to the highest standard of safety and comply with relevant airworthiness regulators’ requirements
  • Support deep-field research operated from Rothera and Halley research Stations and from field stations at Fossil Bluff and Sky-Blu.

Technology, innovation and training

  • We stay abreast of the latest technological developments in polar aviation

Influencing and leading international programmes

  • We provide specialist advice and expertise to other polar programmes and operators

Stakeholder engagement

  • We work with other national operators of polar programmes to share best practice
  • We work with NERC-funded research teams to develop airborne survey equipment and other science fit outs
  • We engage with aviation authorities
BAS Air Unit Group picture 2019
British Antarctic Survey – Air Operations Team (2019)




Rod Arnold

Head of Air Unit


Victoria Auld

Line Pilot


Ian Potten

Line Pilot


Mark Thomas

Head of Airworthiness and Aircraft Engineering


Oliver Smith

Head of Aircraft Training


Daniel Beeden

Air Unit Operations Coordinator


Drew Robertson

Line Pilot


Di Lisi

Air Unit Operational & Administrative Support


Daniel Badcock

Airworthiness and Aircraft Engineering Manager


David Landy

Chief Pilot


Marie Lemaire

Junior Captain


Sue Dunn

Station Support Administrator


Alan Meredith

Training Captain


Alan Howland

Senior Captain


Stephen Smith

Air Operations Project Coordinator

Pilotless plane test crew arrives in Antarctica

3 February, 2024

A team have arrived at Rothera Research Station, ready to start testing the new Windracers ULTRA autonomous drone in Antarctica. If successful, the new drone platform could represent a major …

Flying campaign to improve climate modelling begins

3 February, 2023

A team of scientists are currently conducting a major experiment over the Southern Ocean that will help to improve climate modelling. The Southern Ocean Clouds project team are performing several …

Scientists to study methane emissions in North Sea

23 April, 2019

Scientists embark on a three-week flying campaign today (23 April) to study methane emissions from gas fields in the southern North Sea. Using specialised scientific equipment, on board one of …

British Antarctic Survey seeks small passenger aircraft for Antarctica

18 December, 2018

British Antarctic Survey is seeking to purchase a small passenger aircraft to work alongside its de Havilland Canada DHC-7 Series 110 (Dash 7). The aircraft will transport science and support teams and cargo between Rothera Research Station on the Antarctic Peninsula and Punta Arenas, Chile.

Air unit awarded prestigious aviation award

11 August, 2017

The British Antarctic Survey Air Unit have been awarded the Johnston Memorial Trophy for 2017 by The Honourable Company of Air Pilots. This is a considerable acknowledgement of the regard held …

PRESS RELEASE: New season – ambitious science

23 November, 2015

New season tackles ambitious science and logistical challenges The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) 2015/16 field season is underway with dozens of scientists and support staff – together with planes and tonnes …

PRESS RELEASE: Aircraft achieve high standard

8 December, 2009

British Antarctic Survey achieves registration for the International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations British Antarctic Survey (BAS) has achieved registration for the International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations (IS-BAO). Following …

The life history of the diving beetle, Lancetes angusticollis (Curtis) (Coleoptera: Dytiscidae), on sub-Antarctic South Georgia

1 January, 1998 by Peter Convey, Rod Arnold

Two populations of the world's most southerly diving beetle (Lancetes angusticollis) were studied on sub-Antarctic South Georgia between November 1995 and April 1996. Parallel observations were made on laboratory cultures…

Read more on The life history of the diving beetle, Lancetes angusticollis (Curtis) (Coleoptera: Dytiscidae), on sub-Antarctic South Georgia