Regional revival on upward trajectory [ID18D1]

06 November 2018

After many years of delays and setbacks, interest in Indonesia's indigenous N219 Nurtanio regional turboprop aircraft, named by President Joko Widodo after Nurtanio Pringgoadisuryo, one of the country's foremost aviation pioneers, is accelerating, now that expected certification is only a few months away, tentatively set for April or May next year.

State-owned enterprise PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PT DI) (BUMNIP Pavilion) plans to deliver the first two aircraft to Thailand in 2019 and last month also signed a memorandum of understanding with Jakarta-based PT Aviastar Mandiri for 20 aircraft, which would be used to serve isolated locations in Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Nusa Tenggara and Papua.

According to PT DI president director Elfien Goentoro, interest has also been expressed by operators from Madagascar, Congo and Senegal as well as from Norway, where the N219's short take-off and landing (STOL) performance from short, rugged airstrips is particularly valued. Other customers are said to include Lion Air, Pelita Air, Trigana Air Service, Nusantara Buana Air and Air Born, adding up to a total of 120 aircraft.

The company projects a requirement for 276 units over the next 10 years, of which 96 will serve the local market. Production could start early in 2019, ramping up from a modest six units in the first year, to 16 in 2020 and 36 every year thereafter.

The N219, a joint venture between PTDI and the Indonesia National Aeronautics and Space Agency (LAPAN), is a 19-seat aircraft powered by two 850hp Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-42 turboprop engines driving four-bladed Hartzell propellers, designed for multipurpose missions from semi-prepared airstrips in remote areas.

It boasts what is claimed the largest cabin volume in its class, which, together with a wide cargo door, offers a multirole and quick-change capability to fulfil various requirements such as troop transport, medical evacuation, cargo transport, surveillance and search and rescue.

Under consideration is a float-equipped version that would be capable of linking major hubs with small communities on the more than 2,000 inhabited islands on the Indonesian archipelago.

The prototype, PK-XDT, made its maiden flight on 16 August 2017 at Bandung's Husein Sastranegara International Airport in West Java and will be certificated by the Directorate of Civil Aviation of Indonesia's Transport Ministry and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) after completion of the required 2,000 flight test hours. The purchase price has been stated at $5.8-6 million.

Earlier this year, PT DI signed purchasing agreements for other aircraft on its production line. These included two NC-212 Series 200 and one CN-235 Series 220 twin-turboprops for maritime patrol and surveillance for the Senegalese Air Force, and one CN-235 Series 220 military transport for the Ivory Coast Air Force, at a total value of $75 million. The Senegalese CN-235 will be delivered next year, as will a similar aircraft ordered previously by Nepal.

The company manufactures 10 aircraft a year from its portfolio, which also includes the NC212i, NC212i MSA (maritime surveillance aircraft) and CN295 tactical military transport.

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