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12 August 2013

New aircraft to make a difference in Sudan

New aircraft to make a difference in Sudan

Mission Aviation Fellowship's (MAF) new aircraft, a Cessna 182, has been kindly donated by faithful supporters and will make its way to South Sudan becoming an invaluable addition to the fleet.

MAF serves almost one million people in the developing world. In more than 30 countries, MAF aircraft transport NGO and relief workers, missionaries or medical staff; enable medical or security evacuations and deliver critical supplies.

Working with more than 1,500 organisations such as Oxfam, Tearfund, UNICEF and the Red Cross, MAF reaches some of the world's most isolated communities. These flights make it possible to address needs relating to poverty and hunger, access to safe drinking water, healthcare, education and support within the local churches.

The usual aircraft are 12-seater or eight-seater craft but this new addition is a smaller four-seater and runs on a different fuel called Jet A1 (diesel) which is cheaper, more efficient and readily available worldwide.

MAF flight. Pilot Mike Riley with Candy O'Donovan and MAF CEO Ruth Whitaker The Alliance's Candy O'Donovan took a flight on the Cessna 182: "I was totally impressed by the smooth take-off and landing, as was the pilot, Mike Riley. This is quite unusual for this size of plane. The range of this aircraft will make it such a valuable vehicle for MAF."

MAF's first regular flight operations commenced in South Sudan in 1950. Since then the charity has grown and now operates 136 light aircraft in more than 25 of the world's poorest countries. Local resident Stuart King co-founder of the charity, now 91, is thrilled that the new aircraft is heading to South Sudan where operations began 63 years ago.

Ruth Whitaker, CEO of MAF, said: "This aircraft will serve South Sudan. It is a tough place to live and we have families out there in the field who commit to the country long-term. It is all about the people that we serve.

"This generous gift will give us the ability to fly smaller teams in a fuel-efficient and cost-effective way and will be a welcome addition to our fleet. The new aircraft will make a life-changing difference to the many men, women and children in South Sudan."

MAF aircraft fly places where there are no roads, reach areas that are cut off or provide key transport over countries that are unsafe due to civil unrest. They play a vital role in disaster response, often providing a gateway for smaller aid agencies to access areas in need. Passengers might be going for a day's business, be in desperate need of a hospital or a missionary family heading out to live in a remote community.

Bryan Pill, a MAF pilot serving Chad, said: "Our planes are small and we can't fly or save everyone but we do make a difference to the people we can help."

Read an interview with Bryan in our On the Job feature in the latest edition of idea magazine, available to members of the Evangelical Alliance.