“I am in receipt of an: Air Operators Certificate allowing us to undertake RPT Operations here in Arnhem Land.” Chris De’Ath – Program Manager (16-11-16)
“The people of Arnhem Land have been asking MAF for this service daily for many years. It will make remote communities more accessible and further facilitate the spread of the gospel whilst also saving costs for MAF and the people we serve.” Roland VanDerVelde – Operations Manager.
WHAT IS RPT?
Regular Public Transport:
The MAF Arnhem Land program has operated for the past 8 years with an Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) allowing carriage of passengers on charter operations. Individuals and organisations wanting to use MAF services would have to charter a whole aircraft-making the cost often prohibitive even at MAF’s subsidised rates. With RPT and the ability to book a seat the cost is greatly reduced for those needing MAF’s air services to reach the remote communities and homelands of Arnhem Land. Selling seats requires an RPT AOC, which means having the standard of operation, required by an airline.
WHY RPT IN ARNHEM LAND?
Arnhem Land needs RPT because it has become unaffordable for Yolngu to travel around by air using charter aircraft. Government departments and service providers are also feeling the pressure of reduced budgets and so being able to send one or two people from point A to point B at a fraction of the cost of chartering a whole aircraft enables them to do more to serve the Yolngu people of Arnhem land. They can visit communities more often for the same travel budget or reduce their travel budget and put extra funds into the services that they deliver.
Yolŋu especially will now have more freedom and the ability to move around Arnhem Land in smaller groups, making air travel accessible to some that it was not accessible to before.
As a Yolngu elder said to us, “the single best thing that MAF could do for Arnhem Land is to re-launch the RPT service”.
And with the help of our donors around the globe and a dedicated team of professionals, we have achieved just that.
VHMEP – THE AIRCRAFT OF CHOICE
After its long journey across the world from MAF in Uganda through to Australia, VH-MEP (Cessna 208 Caravan) underwent a major overall at the MAF Mareeba engineering base. The team worked very hard preparing the aircraft for use so that it could be then assigned to the Arnhem Land program. On Monday the 25thth of April, the aircraft was ferried across to Gove, welcomed by MAF staff and dedicated to the Lord. Since that day the Aircraft has been utilised in many ways and is a huge benefit to the Arnhem Land program. And now VH-MEP is set to be the primary aircraft used for RPT. (To follow the story of this aircraft you can read it here: http://www.maf-arnhemland.org/the-yindi-aircraft/)
16th NOVEMBER 2016
This day will be remembered by MAF Arnhem Land for sometime! It was the day that the program received receipt of the official Air Operators Certificate allowing Regular Public Transport to actually commence.
This certificate represented more than just a piece of paper! It represented years of work, prayer, money, sweat and tears that had been put in by so many people across the organisation. At various times along the journey, some even doubted that the obstacles in the way of RPT commencing could be overcome, while others believed in faith that this is what God was calling the Arnhem Land program to rise up to and get past the challenges. Despite the challenges faced, the program can now look back in thankfulness and now must look forward to the future of RPT having a prominent place once again in the work that MAF does in Arnhem Land.
22nd NOVEMBER 2016
On this day the Arnhem Land program celebrated with the rest of the MAF world and began its first shuttle service from Gove – Elcho Island via Lake Evella.
Program Manager Chris De’Ath shares his memories of this first day: “Good Morning Mr De’Ath, do you have any aerosols, lighters, flammable or dangerous goods in your luggage”? “No”. “Great, here is your boarding pass for our RPT service this morning to Lake Evella and onwards to Elcho Island”.
As a programme manager I have many, many conversations with various staff members each day. I must say, that this was been one of the best conversations to start my day with to date. Tuesday 22 November 2016 will be firmly etched in the mind of many of us in Arnhem Land. After a long period Arnhem Lands RPT service resumed.
As an organisation we have celebrated the launch of the new Regular Public Transport service in Arnhem Land in November, after 5 years of complex negotiations, and it is already proving popular with local Yolŋu people. Chris Lukkien – MAFI CEO (Dec 16)
From its initial start date in November 2016, up until the middle of January the RPT service has managed to allow over 500 people to travel and over 35 organisations to make use of the service. This will only increase in time, as the service becomes more publicly known.
There is plenty of scope, need and demand for this service to expand into other ports and increase regularity. The provision of an RPT service will not only help the people of Arnhem Land in a practical sense, it will provide more opportunities for MAF staff to continue being an effective Christian witness of the Love, Peace and Hope found through Jesus Christ.
MAF’s Purpose is to share God’s love through aviation and technology.
MAF’s Vision is to see isolated people physically and spiritually transformed in Christ’s name.
RPT IS INLINE WITH BOTH OF THESE.
Many people have worked extremely hard along the way, putting in long hours to make this a possibility. Therefore we take a moment to acknowledge the following people:
- Dean Giles (RPT Project Manager based in Cairns) – for an exceptional job leading the project over the past few years.
- Lisa Curran (Chief Pilot based in Arnhem Land) – for many hours of tireless work with manuals, systems, grueling training, selflessness and leading our pilot team into this era.
- Doug Miles (Area Director based in Cairns) – for continuing to believe in RPT operations here in Arnhem Land.
- Craig Fulton (Previous Program Manager in Arnhem Land) – for moving the project forward during his time in MAF.
- Cairns & Mareeba team members – Many hours have been put in by so many to allow this to happen – we really value our support departments.
The list could go on, so thank you to each and every person who has brought us to this point. This will have a significant impact for this next season of transformation here in Arnhem Land.