Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Mission Aviation Planes Grounded Due to Lack of Fuel

Photograph: Christian Newswire
Mission Aviation Planes Grounded Due to Lack of Fuel

The Kodiak -- New-Generation Bush Plane -- Coming to the Rescue; Funds Needed
NAMPA, Idaho, April 2 /Christian Newswire/ -- A shortage of aviation fuel -- or "av gas" -- has grounded missionary pilots of Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), a faith-based, non- profit ministry that serves missions and isolated people around the world with aviation, communications and learning technologies.

Because of the shortage, some 150 air strips currently are without service, according to John Boyd, president of MAF.

In response to the crisis, MAF is embarking on an aggressive 10-year plan to acquire 20 of the new Kodiak 100 aircraft, manufactured by Quest Aircraft, said Boyd. Not only does the Kodiak use jet fuel, which is more readily available and cheaper, the plane also is larger, flies faster and can still get in and out of small air strips. The Kodiaks even come at a discounted cost to the ministry.
MAF will take delivery of its first Kodiak in October.

MAF is raising some $29 million for this "Fleet Optimization Project." Of that, nearly $10 million already has been raised.

"The aircraft we have now -- the Cessna 206 -- often can't fly because we can't get avgas," Boyd said. The Cessna has been the backbone of the MAF fleet for 60 years.

When available, avgas can cost up to $12 a gallon, whereas jet fuel is $3.50 a gallon, said Boyd. In addition to the fuels savings and its ability to fly farther with more payload, there are other benefits, he said.

"As the fleet changes, it will help us increase our reach, expand the ministry and enable us to meet needs we can't meet currently," he said. "It's a win-win situation."

A recent MAF study showed that most unreached peoples around the globe are unreached because they lack transportation, communications or technology.

The new Kodiaks will allow MAF to reach even more of the isolated peoples in remote places around the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Boyd said.

With a fleet of 52 aircraft, MAF serves more than 800 Christian and non-profit agencies in remote areas, as well as thousands of isolated people in Africa, Asia, Eurasia and Latin America.

Founded in 1945, MAF stations some 200 missionary families in the remotest regions of 27 countries on five continents. MAF pilots fly approximately 40,000 flights a year, transporting missionaries, medical personnel, medicines and relief supplies, as well as conducting thousands of emergency medical evacuations. MAF also provides telecommunications services, such as satellite Internet access, high-frequency radios, electronic mail and other wireless systems, in isolated areas.

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