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How Engineers on a Mission Keep MAF Flying

Story & Videos by Lobitos Alves 

Aircraft engineers from the MAF support base in Mareeba, Australia, enable Mission Aviation Fellowship’s Timor-Leste programme to keep serving isolated communities.

An international team of engineers have travelled to Timor-Leste to carry out maintenance that helps MAF to keep providing hope, help and healing across the nation.

The workers came from Australia to the Timorese capital Dili to complete routine inspections of the two aircraft and later for unscheduled maintenance. Without their efforts, MAF’s planes could sit idle on the ground, which could halt the vital medevac service which brings patients from remote towns quickly and safely to the national hospital.

Captain Jan Klassen, MAF pilot and Safety Manager, emphasised the impact of bringing MAF aircraft engineers from Australia to help with maintenance in Timor-Leste. “Since MAF has no aircraft engineer here in Timor-Leste, we absolutely depend on their trips to Dili to maintain our planes. Without their visits, we would have to ground the planes after a few weeks or organise expensive ferry flights to Australia. So, we really appreciate their work here,” Captain Klassen said.

MAF aircraft engineer John Hermanus arrived in Dili in February to complete the 100 hourly inspections on two GA8 aircraft, VH-MAH and VH-MAF and in March, MAF engineers John Hermanus, Jason Job, and Josh Todd came to Timor-Leste on a mission to carry out unscheduled maintenance on one of the aircraft.

Captain Klassen, from Germany, explained how the role of aircraft engineers is crucial to help MAF provide medevac and charter flights to link people from remote communities such as Atauro, Vikeke and Same with the capital Dili. “Aircraft maintenance is very important because it can help us provide life-saving flights to rescue people who need emergency evacuations in remote communities to get further treatment at the national hospital of Guido Valadares in Dili, the only national hospital in the country,” he said.

Air transportation plays a pivotal role in Timor-Leste by overcoming the barriers of mountainous terrain, rough roads and long distance. Carl Bengtsson, from the Maintenance Control team in Mareeba, said: “The engineers are minimising the down time of our aircraft so that they are ready to perform emergency medevacs and other flight requirements throughout the country. “With the current engineer shortage, we cannot have an engineer based in Dili, so our Mareeba engineers have to respond to the call and promptly fly to Dili when aircraft have unscheduled maintenance issues.”

In the two weeks following the maintenance mission, the aircraft VH-MAF completed no less than 10 medevacs, showing us the true importance of these engineer visits to keep MAF planes flying. 

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