Over 25 years of service, Cessna Caravan 5X-BIL has carried aid workers, rescued medevac patients, dropped missionaries in remote villages and even hosted an afternoon tea! VIP passengers including the Archbishop of Canterbury and Bob Geldof have taken to the skies in BIL.
Here, engineers Dave Waterman and Andy Swanson introduce us to the trusty workhorse that has a special place in their hearts, and take us step-by-step through the process of a major overhaul and upgrade. If you've ever wondered what it takes to get a MAF plane in the air and keep it flying, here's your chance to find out!
Episode 1: Rebuilding BIL
Dave and Andy introduce an aircraft that has made an incredible impact over 25 years of high impact flying.
‘In Ethiopia 5X-BIL worked hard flying many hours carrying all sorts of passengers including the Archbishop of Canterbury and Bob Geldof.’ Dave Waterman
Episode 2: Deconstruction complete
In episode two Dave and Andy start stripping the paintwork and removing the interior including the seats, floor, wiring avionics, and controls! The tail and wing are next to go - before the paint stripper is applied.
Episode 3: Wiring, panels and painting
There are literally miles of wiring in a Cessna and it all has to be replaced! New updated aviation equipment in the cockpits means new panels have to be crafted from scratch. The smart, recognisable paint scheme distinguishes BIL as an MAF plane is applied, layer by layer. While all this is happening another MAF plane is drafted in from Kenya to help cover the busy flying schedule.
Episode 4: New Year, new plane!
The painstaking process of painting the aircraft continues and there are a few inevitable hitches along the way. The new avionics must be installed before the deconstructed parts can be reassembled like a giant jigsaw!
Episode 5: Testing, testing, 1,2,3...
After three months of teamwork it's time for the big reveal! With new navigation and communications equipment (avionics), a brand new interior, and a smart new paint job, the plane's been given a whole new lease of life. Time to test out the new kit and take to the skies! Thanks for watching.
‘For 25 years BIL has been working with MAF, flying for life, bringing the hope of Jesus and healing to the communities of Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo as well as Uganda.’ Andy Swanson