Indonesia’s principal aircraft manufacturer, PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PTDI), has amassed orders for 120 of its N219 multi-purpose utility turboprop ahead of local certification due in April or May 2019. The latest customer, domestic airline PT Avistar Mandiri, recently signed a memorandum of understanding to acquire an additional 20 of the airplanes, which PTDI designed for use in remote regions with short, rugged airstrips.
Based in Jakarta, Avistar operates a mixed fleet of two BAe 146-200 and five DHC-6-300 Twin Otters to isolated areas in Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Nusa Tenggara, and Papua. Other N219 customers include Lion Air, Trigana Air Service, Nusantara Buana Air, Pelita Air, Air Born and the government of Thailand. Meanwhile, Madagascar, Congo, Senegal, and Norway have recently signaled interest due to the aircraft’s STOL abilities.
Designed for a cruise speed of 190 knots and a stall speed of 59 knots, the N219 features a Garmin G1000 avionics suite and two 850-shp Pratt & Whitney PT6A-42 engines driving Hartzell four-blade propellers. Uses include passenger and cargo services, troop transport, military surveillance, search and rescue, as well as medevac operations. Priced at between $5.8 million and $6 million, the N219 sells for a slightly lower price than its main competitor, the Viking DHC-6 Twin Otter.
As PTDI edges toward Indonesian certification, the N219 could begin production as early as next year, particularly for components that do not require certification. Plans call for production to increase modestly from six aircraft in 2019 to 16 in 2020 and 36 units each year thereafter.
For Indonesia, the N219 represents more than the introduction of a new aircraft; it also provides an opportunity to boost domestic capabilities and unify local suppliers while building upon its aircraft component manufacturing industry. The N219 uses 60 percent domestically produced materials, and local vendors have already played a pivotal role, supplying portions of the fixed tricycle landing gear and rubber components and tooling. Indonesia’s National Aeronautics and Space Agency (LAPAN) played a critical role in designing the aircraft.
Once the aircraft achieves certification, PTDI plans to build a new facility to increase the company’s production capacity. The new plant, estimated to cost $90 million to $100 million, will produce an N219 military aircraft and possibly an amphibian version.
For now, PTDI is exploring a broad range of options to raise the requisite amount of funds to build the facility, including equity participation, private-public partnerships, manufacturing subsidiaries, and joint ventures.
Source: Jennifer Meszaros