ATR’s partnership with Aviation Sans Frontières

Solidarity takes off

Contributing to development, bringing people closer, making air transport accessible to those who need it most… These are all values ATR has in common with volunteers from France’s NGO Aviation Sans Frontières (Aviation Without Borders). Our two organizations have been united by a partnership agreement for 20 years now, both sides having one and the same objective: to share our expertise and give some of our time to humanitarian missions across the world. For into life, Patrick Bruneau, Aviation Sans Frontières representative in Southwest France, details the actions carried out under the partnership with ATR.




Intolife: What are the missions of Aviation Sans Frontières?

The original mission of Aviation Sans Frontières was to transport humanitarian aid aboard our two Cessna Caravan aircraft based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Our delegation based in Toulouse, in Southwest France, comprises 42 volunteers who perform all the association’s other missions, starting with Ailes du Sourire. This consists in organising first-time flights for people with disabilities, in partnership with ACAT, the Airbus flying club.

Our other major activity is humanitarian freight, and the Toulouse delegation is the only one to carry out this mission for the simple reason that we have Airbus and ATR nearby. In general, when a new aircraft is delivered to a company, its cargo compartments are empty. We therefore request agreement from the customer to fill the cargo compartment with medical equipment, clothing, medication, etc. to provide relief to developing countries, working alongside associations. We also provide a medical courier service, with the agreement of Air France pilots, carrying small-scale medical equipment in the crew baggage hold.

We also escort many sick children from poor families, in partnership with La Chaîne de l’Espoir (a French non-profit working with disadvantaged children) and Mécénat Chirurgie Cardiaque (an association that brings children with heart defects to France for surgery). Our volunteers accompany these young patients on their flights. On the same principle, we also escort refugees in cooperation with IOM (the International Organization for Migration).

Intolife: What are the key actions taken in the context of your partnership with ATR?

The major missions with ATR concern air freight. At the end of March, ATR is preparing to deliver an ATR 72-600 to Bangkok Airways. It will carry 200kg of toys and 100kg of clothing from donations in its baggage hold. We have partnered up with a Thai association at the border with Laos to take delivery of the donations, and I’m going to arrange a mission to help distribute the toys in an orphanage and several rural schools. Previously, we chartered two ATR 72-600 aircraft for Senegal with 300kg of medical equipment and 100kg of clothing.

For 2019, ATR agreed to strengthen our cooperation on the e-Aviation mission we carry out in secondary schools. This involves workshops presenting aviation professions to teenagers, when they are first making subject choices in view of future careers. Many of them say “I could not possibly become a pilot” and then they turn away from the aviation sector, without realising there are about a hundred professions with a link to aviation. Also, we talk to them about our humanitarian missions. Lastly, we get them to use Fly Simulator software to give them a go at piloting, which they really enjoy. With ATR, we have raised the idea that some employees could be present to discuss their jobs with young students, because we think this is still the best way of encouraging future vocations.


Key figures 2018 – Aviation Sans Frontières

  • 800 volunteers involved
  • 1 824 flight hours
  • 13 tons of medical equipment carried out
  • 905 disabled people participated in 99 Ailes du sourire events
  • 1 229 sick children escorted towards their healing by 347 volunteers
  • 3974 refugees accompanied
  • 738 teen-agers took part in e-aviation days run in secondary schools