A planned trip by pilot Robert DeLaurentis to both poles has been delayed yet again.
Originally planned for December 2018, the journey was pushed to June 2019, and then again to Nov. 16, 2019.
According to an update from DeLaurentis, the delay is, in part, to some avionics upgrades to the 1983 Gulfstream Turbo Commander 900 (N29GA) he calls “Citizen of the World.”
“Sponsors Iridium, Aireon, and FlightAware.com asked that we upgrade the transponder in the Citizen of the World to one capable of ‘diversity’ so the plane could also be tracked by the new 66 Iridium Next satellites in addition to ground stations globally,” he reported. “This involved adding a different transponder and a second antenna onto the plane. This will allow us to reach an additional 12 million people.”
He added that other steps remaining before departure included:
- Install six ferry tanks, a fuel sensor and two GPS trackers
- Install NASA Wafer-scale Experiment
- Apply a Ceramic Coating
- Test the new systems that have been installed
- Test the plane with various fuel loads to determine climb performance and range.
“Due to the time and safety requirements for these avionics installs and the ongoing testing we would like to do on the plane, we are rescheduling our departure until November and will head to the South Pole first,” he concluded in the update.