Skip to content


Local air transport

Local air transport is the last link in the air transport chain, the link that brings in emergency aid and environmental protection staff to the rural runways closest to isolated groups and endangered regions when the roads are impassable, non-existent or too insecure.

The re-opening of the Alindao runway, left abandoned for thirty years, offers NGOs brand-new opportunities, such as sending children suffering from severe malnutrition to a medical centre in Bangui!

Providing people access with ASF 
means going where others do not or no longer go

After a one hour flight we landed in the midst of the immense Salonga National Park. My passenger, a biologist, told me that last time it took him four days by canoe!

Opening up protected areas with ASF, 
means to preserve resources that humanity needs

Air transport from the centre to the periphery

Local air transport consists of transporting humanitarian and development staff on 5- to 19-seat single-engine and twin-engine aircraft from the capital of the country or province to the capitals of districts and outlying bush runways. This can be done within a radius of 500-1,000 km and in a difficult environment for air operations. It is primarily operated by the UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) and the European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Office (ECHO FLIGHT).

Enlarging the humanitarian operating environment in two senses: access and security 

This type of transport contributes to enlarging the humanitarian operating environment required by field-based humanitarian stakeholders to carry out their mission to the best of their ability. This is enlarged in two senses: access, to get past difficult terrain, and the security of staff, given the risks of land transport in these areas. It is organised based on regular scheduled flights.

ASF and the third dimension of the humanitarian operating environment: operational flexibility 

An NGO at heart, ASF has established a very close link with stakeholders in the field. This allows us to offer a third dimension to the humanitarian operating environment: operational flexibility. This is necessary for NGOs to continue adapting to changes even when their capacity to intervene is limited by the strictness of scheduled regular flights. ASF provides this flexibility thanks to participatory management of flights justified exclusive to NGO demand and on a humanitarian basis, even if they are not commercially viable (e.g. due to the aircraft occupancy rate).

The appropriate tool for a flexible air service to difficult destinations: the Cessna Caravan

In order to cope with increasingly complex humanitarian crises that require increasingly quick intervention to more destinations and travelling longer distances, ASF has chosen the Cessna 208B Grand Caravan. This high-performance bush aircraft is adapted to short runways that may be little used or unused by other air operators. The aircraft is equipped with a short take-off and landing kit, large tires and a reinforced front fork. It can be used to transport passengers or cargo.

Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC)

In 2012, in order to guarantee the highest level of safety for each flight performed for our humanitarian partners (NGOs, international organizations, etc.), Aviation Sans Frontières obtained an Air Operator’s Certificate.

Delivered by the French authorities to ASF-France for their operations with Cessna 208, this certificate conforms to the European regulations of air transportation as dictated by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). Aviation Sans Frontières is the only NGO worldwide to hold its own AOC, which makes it compliant with the standards applicable to all airlines.

As such, aircrafts have to be regularly maintained (every 100 flight hours) by an approved Part-145 maintenance organization under the responsibility of the Continuing Airworthiness Manager (Part M). Pilots are regularly trained and tested in order to maintain a high level of competence. All air operations are continually audited by the quality department and the French Civil Aviation Authority. 

In 2017, the Belgian Civil Aviation Authority delivered this certificate to ASF-Belgium for their specific operations with Cessna 206. 

Emergence of a fourth dimension in the humanitarian operating environment: independence and neutrality.

The United Nations now integrate their humanitarian, political and military operations, which is leading NGOs using the United Nations Air Transport Service to fear it will become an amalgam, a mix of genres. Not only do the United Nations take part in the conflict with their peacekeeping or peace enforcement forces, but the same forces implement these “humanitarian” projects to encourage sympathy from local populations. Therefore, NGOs are increasingly seeking neutral and independent humanitarian air operators. It’s not just a question of policy, but also security.