USA (MNN) — The shortage of aviation fuel, or avgas, is causing problems for missionary aviators around the world. In Papua, Indonesia there are 250 airstrips that are served by Mission Aviation Fellowship. However, they can't serve all of them.
MAF's President John Boyd says, "The aircraft that we have at the moment, the Cessna 206, we aren't able fly on many occasions because we can't get avgas."
Because of the shortage in avgas, 150 of those air strips are currently without service. That's why MAF has an aggressive fleet optimization plan that will replace the Cessna 206 avgas-aircraft with brand new bush designed Kodiak 100's that use jet fuel, which is common around the world.
When avgas is available, it can cost about $12 a gallon. Jet fuel, on the other hand, costs just $3.50 a gallon.
That's why MAF is in the process of improving its fleet of aircraft with a 10 year plan. "We will take delivery of our first Kodiak in October of this year. MAF has embarked upon a very aggressive fleet optimization project to raise funds and take delivery of  new Kodiak aircraft [by 2007]," Boyd says.
Fuel isn't the only benefit of the Kodiak, explains Boyd. "The Kodiak aircraft is a bigger airplane. It flies faster, and it can get in and out of the small air strips that we currently get in and out of with our smaller airplanes."
Boyd believes the ability to fly farther with more payload, coupled with fuel savings will allow for greater productivityat lower operating costs. "As this fleet starts to change, it will help us increase our reach, expand the ministry and be more available to meet needs that we just obviously can't meet at the moment," he says.
MAF is raising nearly $29-million for the fleet optimization project. Nearly $10 million has already been raised.
A recent MAF Operation ACCESS study suggests most unreached peoples are unreached because they lack transportation and modern communications. These new planes will allow MAF to reach even more of the unreached people around the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.