Exciting Updates from MAF Mareeba
2020 will be remembered as a very unusual year, when social distancing was the norm and children and parents alike, studied and worked from home, trying to ensure our safety from Covid-19. However for MAF in Mareeba there are hopeful ventures afoot. The Mareeba Hangar was set up in 2003 as a temporary measure and now after almost two decades, land has been generously donated to MAF, so that MAF Mareeba can relocate to the other side of the airport.
The plan is to lease land on the Western end of the runway to build Hangars, opposite the donated land where the Flight Training Centre (FTC), Engineering Training, housing and workshops will be located. The land donated included a house, which has enabled MAF to initially utilise this as student housing after some minor alterations. The full plan for the site will take two to five years to achieve completely, but it is wonderful to see the start of the dream of MAF’s permanent home in Mareeba.
MAF in Mareeba is currently the only Flight Training School in Australia or PNG to be a PNG CASA approved training school for ab-initio training and they currently have three students from PNG training with them. They also have testing approval, ensuring that these PNG students will have first class training. Recently two of these students moved in to the new accommodation at the airport, which links directly in to MAF’s core objective of Care where on-site accommodation is provided for these students who are away from home and facing challenges in their flight training.
Valuing the spiritual and personal wellbeing of our people is core to MAF’s culture and as such the main benefits of this accommodation for the PNG students are:
- Communal living where living and cooking is shared, is very culturally appropriate for the PNG students.
- Reduced rent is a huge advantage to the PNG students as being able to afford rent as well as course fees is a challenge to most students. MAF is able to reduce the cost of their rent as the property is now owned. Rent is also inclusive of all costs such as internet and other charges.
- There is a separate study area at the accommodation.
- The student accommodation is now based at the airport, which enables the students to really focus on the aviation experience. In the past when PNG companies have used other Training Centres on the Gold Coast for example, the distraction of nightlife has had a very negative effect. Therefore, an airport base ensures the students really focus and achieve their best possible outcomes.
Another of MAF’s core values is Stewardship and using the house to generate income from the rent does this, rather than it just being an ongoing maintenance cost. There are also significant savings to MAF by not having to lease as many units for accommodation in Mareeba.
But this house will provide more than just student accommodation in the first instance; for MAF it represents a sense of community. A vegetable garden as already been established, which is planned to eventually become a communal vegetable garden. There are plans for MAF families to be able to use the pool area for community events as well as exercise. Suggestions have also been put forward for a volleyball court and even a tea room, where devotions can be held, as well as social gatherings.
Rene Don, FTC Operations Manager describes the new student accommodation as “very peaceful”. He goes on to say “that the area is very open, with a large banana farm next door and the remainder of the land not developed. There is also a large grass field which could be used by PNG students and MAF staff alike to play rugby or soccer.”
So the plan going forward is to build Hangars at the Western end of the runway, across the road from the donated land which will eventually house the Flight Training Centre to include classrooms for both Pilot and Engineering training, as well as housing for Pilots and students coming through the FTC for training. The plan is to build with a view to the future ensuring that there is room for expansion as MAF in Mareeba grows.
Tim Higgins, Project Manager for this development says “I am excited for the future. Things seem to be moving quite quickly. It is the start of a vision and even though Covid-19 has slowed the process down and financially impacted it, I am determined that the vision will not be compromised. We will amend the timeframe and not the vision.”
“This development is MAF’s footprint to the future” said MAF Mareeba’s Manager Neil Alexander.
Story and Photographs by Katherine Williams