Arnhem Land is a hot, humid and remote area in the north-eastern corner of Australia’s Northern Territory. The region is defined by rugged coastlines, rocky escarpments, rivers, swamps and waterfalls. Arnhem Land is roughly the size of Iceland, over twice the size of Switzerland, and bigger than Hungary, Portugal and Austria.
During the wet season some roads become flooded, making them impassable for periods of time. The weather is unstable during this period, providing a range of challenges for our pilots to navigate. Arnhem Land is home to around 20,000 Indigenous Australians.
MAF operates six GA8 Airvans and two Cessna Caravans between 55 community airstrips in Arnhem Land. Unpaved roads and long distances between the communities make road travel a dangerous, time consuming and arduous task. During the wet season these roads flood and are impassable for months at a time. MAF flights also connect otherwise inaccessible islands to the mainland. Flying in a MAF aircraft allows passengers to overcome these barriers and helps them reach their destination safely and efficiently.
MAF delivers basic supplies, enables education, health care and development.
Scheduled Shuttle Flights
MAF is the only air operator in the area to offer a scheduled shuttle flight (formerly Regular Public Transport /RPT) service. These are fixed scheduled, everyday flights that are conducted over pre-specified routes. This is a cost-effective option for the public as the price is ticket-based, and the flight is shared between customers traveling to multiple locations.
MAF aircraft are available to charter. Chartering an aircraft gives customers the ability to choose destination and time of departure.
Patient Travel and Low Acuity Medevac Flights
The GA8 aircraft operated by MAF are well equipped for patient travel and low acuity medical evacuation flights in Arnhem Land’s bush environment. MAF aircraft provide this service from homelands that cannot be accessed by larger medevac aircraft in the region.
Domestic Violence Evacuation Flights
MAF has developed a strong working partnership with domestic violence shelters that offer a haven to victims of domestic violence in the East Arnhem region. MAF provides fast, timely evacuation of these women and children living in remote communities. MAF considers this work as high impact and high priority.
In Arnhem Land, the trip to school can take 12 hours by road through dense bushland and during wet season the roads are impassable. But on a MAF flight it can be just 30 minutes. MAF serves Indigenous Australian communities in Arnhem Land by flying students to school so they can access education in their traditional homeland environment. Education flights are an essential operating service – without them – the distance to access school is just too great.
MAF families have become part of the community; they live, work and worship in the ancient Indigenous homelands. After 50 years here, appreciation, trust and respect have been deeply rooted. MAF is almost the only external Christian influence in the area – providing a professional aviation service and an effective witness at the same time, and supporting the local church throughout the region.
The biggest challenge faced by the local Indigenous church, Yolngu Christian leaders and Christian partners is the distance between communities in Arnhem Land. Isolation disrupts the local church from offering support, encouragement and training to its people who live in the remote homelands. MAF supports these churches and partners in their work by flying them in and out of remote communities.
Flights also provide support to Bible translators in their mission of translating the Bible into more than 16 Indigenous languages spoken in Arnhem Land.
Many Indigenous Australians in Arnhem Land possess a mobile phone, and our Technology Services team is able to share the Gospel by texting Bible verses every week. They have also been able produce MicroSD cards for mobile phones, containing countless amounts of Christian resources. The team also shows the Jesus film and distributes Bibles and Good News DVDs. Read more about Technology Services in Arnhem Land.