From that moment on, his fascination of flying and all things, aviation became a lifelong passion. As Edward Matane aka ‘Eddie’ or ‘Dude’ discovered, his passion became a vocation.
“I loved watching pilots operating aircrafts in what was then, a tough operating environment but that set the scene for my future aspirations,” Edward said.
At the age of 18 when most young people in PNG received their driver’s licence, Edward’s was a different kind of licence, one that would qualify him to fly. Initially, he flew Cessna 150s, 172s, Piper Tomahawks, Piper Cherokees, and a host of other twin-engine aircrafts.
It is no surprise Edward has a pilot son - Captain Jay Matane, currently flying with Air Niugini. Although Edward expected a different pathway for this son, he knew sooner or later, he would one day catch the “aviator bug.”
“I actually wanted my son to become an Electrical Engineer. I did not realise that having him grow up around aircrafts and even handling one at a very young age, he would choose this path.
Two of Edward’s nephews are also licenced aircraft engineers, and so the family is renowned in the PNG aviation Industry.
Edward is the Aviation Lead for Santos and is based at Moro, the logistics hub for the Company’s sustainable oil and gas development and supply operations.
Edward, who has been with the company for more than nine years, leads a 12-member team that ensures daily aviation operations, which straddle the Southern Highlands, Hela and Gulf, provinces are well supported with aircraft safety and availability being key.
The team also ensures Jet A1 fuel quality is maintained, medivac capability is available for Santos and the community and that the Moro airport runway and navaids conform to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority of PNG standards.
Prior to joining Santos, Edward started his aviation carrier with Air Niugini in 1978 as an Aircraft Engineer. He then became a Flight Engineer before taking on various management roles.
Some of his accomplishments include becoming the second PNG licenced aircraft engineer for F28 engines in 1980, becoming the first licenced F28 airframe and dual (both engine and airframe) engineer in 1981, attaining a flight engineer’s rating on the B707 in 1983 and the Airbus A300B4 in 1985.
As a global citizen who values a healthy work-life-balance, Edward says he is fortunate that his Fly-In Fly-Out career with Santos allows him to spend equal time in the village with his family.
Like many, Edward’s approach to work has been greatly influenced by his parents. He attributes his numerous achievements to their “strong disciplined work ethics and high moral standards”. Edward is the first son of late Sir Paulias Matane, former governor general, a senior statesman and a great Papua New Guinean writer.
When sharing a few unforgettable experiences in his current role, Edward recalls the 2018 massive earthquake that shook the Southern Highlands and nearby provinces.
Moro became a coordination point for delivery of emergency aid provided by a range of donors and NGOs, and food and supplies donated by the Company.
“As a first responder, we sent in our helicopters and personnel with initial relief supplies to the hardest hit villages. The Australian and New Zealand Governments then deployed the first of their air assets, the C-130 Hercules with aid packages. Shortly after, we saw a large volume of air traffic as the Moro airfield became an active hub with over 2000 landings from more than 10 types of aircraft including the Dash 8s, ATRs, DH6 twin otter, the Super Kingair, Cessna Caravan, Bell212s, Air bus H145 helicopters and the Chinooks.
“A proud moment was also when we organised the safe travel of many of our employees out of Moro a day after the earthquake. It was indeed an honour when the Company recognised the Aviation Team for their efforts,” Edward said.
A career highlight prior to joining Santos was when he was part of a recovery effort that salvaged a severely damaged aircraft. “We rebuilt it, took it for a flight test and eventually had it discharged back to full operations.”
On a lighter note, Edward reveals a hidden talent.
“I am an excellent motorcyclist.” Outside of work, he enjoys nothing more than the company of his family and finds outdoor activities rejuvenating. Edward also enjoys watching rugby league and is a loyal supporter of the New South Wales State of Origin (Blues) team. He also shares his love of music. His favourite song is ‘While my guitar gently weeps’ by Santana.
For Edward, there is no better place in the world than the rugged terrains of Papua New Guinea to test the forte of a young boy or girl destined to fly.
I can also say, “be respectful to everyone regardless of who they are, maintain an unquestionable integrity at all times and always remain humble. With self-belief and passion, the sky really is the limit.”