USA (MNN) — The region is mountainous, isolated, and dangerous. This is the world in which Mission Aviation Fellowship pilots live.
So what happens when their planes wear out? Is it cheaper to buy new, or to fix what they have? This is the dilemma MAF faces with one of their veteran aircraft stationed in a Central Asian region that also adds ground hostilities to the mix.
MAF President John Boyd explains, "This particular aircraft–it's called a King Air, a twin engine turbine–flying in this region, and because of the great needs of the people, we've recognized the airplane is flying a hugely increased amount of flight hours." The wear and tear of the terrain and the service required means "we need to replace both turbine engines on this airplane. It is an expensive operation."
However, it's the plane best suited to the demands of the terrain. "The plane's features are especially vital. It was built to handle long distances and fly over high mountains. It can land safely on very remote, rugged, rough and short airstrips, and it can endure bad weather."
The Beechcraft King Air Twin Turboprop was the first aircraft in its class and has been in continuous production since 1964. It has a good reputation for being a workhorse…and a price tag of a couple million dollars. So, fixing the MAF plane makes more sense because it's doable. Boyd says, "The total cost of replacing these engines could be as high as $600,000 to $800,000." He admits the repair cost is high, "but the impact on the lives who don't know Jesus, and their physical needs: you can't calculate that in dollars."
The team connects with many other relief organizations in the region transporting people, supplies, whatever the need. Boyd clarifies what it would mean "if the worst were to occur and one was to imagine that we couldn't replace these engines: that aircraft would be grounded and could not operate and fly." The impact of that failure, he says, would be exponential. "The mere physical fact of not being able to fly that airplane into those remote regions [means] the very people we're serving and their lives would be impacted horrifically. Then, for the [relief organizations] that we partner with, commensurately, their [work] would be impacted."
Raising $800,000 dollars seems like an impossible goal. However, the ministry has been moving forward in faith. God provides the tools needed. In addition, "We have a very gracious donor to MAF who has obviously seen the need of this particular project in replacing these two turbine engines and has gifted to us $400,000 for a matching grant."
God's timing is providing just the shot of encouragement needed to keep things moving forward by leaps, not just baby steps. Says Boyd, "Every dollar given is doubled by this $400,000 matching grant. The cost of purchasing, replacing, and refitting these engines can be as high as $800,000."
The bottom line: two engines means doors stay open in a tumultuous region. "We're talking about this particular region where the [necessity] of the airplane is even more paramount to help demonstrate the love of our Lord Jesus […] in this very sensitive region."
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