LAST Wednesday was a special day for Mission Aviation Fellowship’s (MAF) Mareeba Support Base as it marked the send-off of their sixth and final ‘Caravan’ aircraft to Papua New Guinea.
The project began at the beginning of the year when MAF bought six Cessna 208 Caravan aircraft from the United States of America before bringing them to Mareeba to have the necessary modifications made to each plane.
“Each aircraft required MAF modifications along with a Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) Certificate of Airworthiness,” MAF Aircraft Engineer Grant Dixon said.
“They’re mass produced aeroplanes so they come out of the factory standard.”
“Whilst they were new, there were items we noticed that weren’t done to our satisfaction; therefore we had to make the correct modifications to suit the region we’re servicing.”
The major modifications made to each aircraft include radio upgrades, an increase in landing weights and baggage area, along with a new and improved tracking and refuelling system.
Mr Dixon said the six aircraft will provide much-needed assistance to those people living remotely in PNG.
“These aircraft will deliver everything you can imagine,” he said.
“These remote communities don’t have roads, so their need for building materials, health services and the like are provided by air.”
MAF Chief Executive Officer David Fyock, who was visiting Mareeba from Ashford, Kent in the United Kingdom, said the project was a resounding success.
“The key of the project is positioning us for a future in Papua New Guinea,” he said.
“We had the ability to take some funds from the sale of a piece of property in Africa to purchase six new ‘Caravan’ aircraft – which fits right in to where we’re headed as an organisation as far as trying to standardise our fleet and being able to have our pilots being able to fl y any type of aircraft.”
Mr Fyock said the aircraft are expected to service the PNG region for 25-30 years.
“We normally anticipate that the aircraft will fl y somewhere between 600-800 hours a year, so by the end of that 25-30 years it will have 20,000 or more hours on it,” he said.
Mr Fyock said the ability to help those living remotely in PNG is an indication of what exists at the core of MAF.
“Our vision is to see isolated people transform physically and spiritually in Christ’s name,” he said.
“We’re a Christian organisation and we don’t hold back from that, with our purpose being to share the love of Jesus using aviation and technology by servicing the most remote parts of the world.”
Mr Fyock took time to thank those who had a significant contribution in the project’s success.
“This team have worked tirelessly in helping shape how we think about the work that we do,” he said.
“In particular, throughout the duration of this project I have seen this specific facility grow in our thought process regarding predictable delivery.”
MAF is an international Christian organisation that provides aviation and technology services to more than 1,000 Christian and humanitarian agencies along with isolated missionaries and remote communities throughout the world.
For those interested in getting involved, you can do so by visiting www.maf.org.au.