A helicopter pilot is in a critical condition on an Australian research station in Antarctica after falling down an icy crevasse and laying injured for at least two hours.

The pilot fell 20m into the crevasse after landing on a remote ice shelf near Australia's Davis station on Monday evening.

He was rescued by an emergency response team and flown to a medical facility at Davis station.

Australian Antarctic Division director Nick Gales said yesterday that the pilot was receiving the best possible medical care while the team assessed whether he should be flown to Australia for intensive treatment.


The division employed highly trained doctors at each research station which were supported by an "enormous" network of medical advice.

"Working in Antarctica is always very dangerous, especially in the remote field," he told reporters in Hobart. "It is in the nature of the work that these incidents can happen."

The fall occurred when two helicopters were sling-loading fuel to a depot on the West Ice Shelf, 90 nautical miles northeast of Davis station.

The two pilots had landed on the remote ice shelf after dropping the fuel drums at the depot site.

One of the pilots fell down the crevasse after leaving his aircraft, while the second pilot, unable to help, contacted Davis station and flew back for help.

The injured pilot, who had "extensive" Antarctic experience, remained down the crevasse for around two to three hours, Gales said.

The division was preparing a runway at another research station in case medical evacuation to Australia was required.