Saturday, July 26, 2008

Pilatus Porter, a suitable aircraft for travelling across mountainous region

While I was about to board into a Boeing 737 200 on a trip to Surabaya, I saw a small plane parking on my left. It was Pilatus Porter. It belonged to AMA (Association of Mission Aviation), a Catholic missionary airliner which has been operating in West Papua for years.

Travelling across mountainous region and other areas that are inaccessible by land transportation can only be done by using airplanes. Most of Papuan population live in many small villages scattered throughout the mountainous region of the island. The construction of roads to connect these villages needs enormous amount of money. Therefore, the fastest way to connect them to the outer world is by using airplanes. Most villages in West Papua have airstrips. Unfortunately they are unprepared, rough and short.

Small airplanes can serve these airstrips without needing the construction of modern airstrip. Supplies from nearby towns such as food, oil, clothes, office equipments, and other products of modern civilisation as well as passengers are transported by these Pilatus Porter aircrafts. On their return flights to towns, they will carry the villagers and vegetables, meat and other agricultural products.
Pilatus Porter aircraft is designed and manufactured by Pilatus Aircraft Limited. The company was founded in 1939. It is one of the market leaders in manufacture and sale of small turbo prop aircraft. Its headquarter is in Central Switzerland employing 1,100 workers.
Missionary airliners in West Papua prefer to use this type of aircraft due to its versatile performance. It can carry up to 1,000 kilograms of goods and 12 passengers.
Besides having high payload in comparison to its size, the aircraft also has STOL capabilities which enable it to operate in rough airstrips or unprepared areas only reachable by helicopters. It can even land on sloped airstrip. There is a video showing how Pilatus Porter landed on this kind of inclined airstrip in Apowo of West Papua.
The capability, reliability, and versatility of Pilatus Porter will make this small aircraft the most preferred choice for many communities living in remote regions around the world. by Charles Roring
Also read: Pilatus Porter a robust aircraft