The future of the aircraft charter business is promising."
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The 17 thousand Indonesian islands spread across the archipelago are vastly isolated, and most regions are located in remote areas that need connectivity.

To this end, the government, through its state-owned aircraft manufacturer PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PTDI), is looking forward to the future trend in passenger aircraft business.

As it would also promote the governments program to boost connectivity and improve the peoples welfare thorough equitable transportation services, PTDI, in cooperation with the National Aviation and Space Agency (LAPAN), is producing a smaller yet efficient aircraft that can be used to offer air transportation services to various islands in Indonesia.

On Thursday, PTDI launched the prototype of its N219 aircraft, which is expected to boost the countrys air transportation sector through commuter aircraft services in future.

"I welcome the development of the N219 aircraft by the domestic aviation industry. The N219 has been developed in Indonesia for Indonesia," President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) said in his written address, read out by Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Luhut Binsar Panjaitan at the unveiling of the aircrafts prototype at the PTDI hangar in Bandung, West Java, on Thursday.

President Jokowi affirmed that the N219 national transport aircraft prototype, displayed in the hangar of PTDI in Bandung on Thursday has been built independently in Indonesia.

The N219 was developed from the CASA C-212 Aviocar and, similar to that design, also has an all-metal construction. It is claimed that the N219 will have the largest cabin volume in its class (6.50 x 1.82 x 1.70 meters), along with a flexible door system to allow multipurpose missions to transport passengers and cargo.

The aircraft is designed to comply with FAR 23(commuter category aircraft) and will be certified in 2016, with the first deliveries scheduled for 2017, according to Wikipedia.

LAPAN Head Prof. Dr Thomas Djamaluddin stated that the N219 can land on a short runway and fly over hilly topographic conditions, such as those found in Medan, North Sumatra, and Papua. An aircraft of this type can deal with such conditions, he pointed out.

He revealed that the aircraft can take off from an 800-meter runway and maneuver in hilly areas.

The aircraft has been designed solely by Indonesian engineers.

In his written address, the president expressed hope that the national aircraft transport industry would expedite connectivity in remote areas and will be able to compete and penetrate the world market. He said the new aircraft is expected to speed up connectivity in the archipelago. The aircraft will also reinforce the countrys vision in the face of aviation competition.

The multi-functional N219 aircraft, built indigenously, has been designed to counter the conditions at airports in the eastern regions of Indonesia. It is hoped to link isolated areas in Indonesia efficiently and at a competitive price.

LAPAN Head Thomas Djamaluddin noted that the unveiling and naming of the aircraft has two main objectives. It aims to make the national aviation industry independent and to help boost the countrys aviation industry after Indonesia launched its N250 aircraft in 1995. It also marks the start of a nationwide awakening.

Thomas explained that the N219 aircraft has been built by qualified human resources that have mastered aviation technology, starting from the design and certification process to production.

"The main objective is to achieve self-reliance in the development of the aviation industry," Thomas affirmed.

The aircraft is categorically small, but it has a simple design and low complexity. The N219 can serve as a learning experience for the engineers of LAPAN and PTDI, so that they are able to produce aircraft in Indonesia.

"The aircraft is designed in accordance with the conditions of isolated areas in Indonesia," Thomas revealed.

Therefore, the president has called on all parties to extend their support to the countrys N219 aircraft. The government and PTDI continue to gather data and coordinate in order to boost PTDIs capabilities to continue to produce good and reliable aircraft.

On the occasion, PTDI also displayed other aircraft, such as the CN-235, N250, and N212.

The rollout of the N219 indicated that the design and structure of the aircrafts prototype has been completed and is ready to be introduced to the public.

The N219 is a 19-seater passenger aircraft and was built following cooperation between PTDI and LAPAN.

In the meantime, Pioneer Airlines PT Air Born will order eight N219 aircraft.

Air Born will purchase eight N219 aircraft to support its fleet, which flies pioneer routes and provides charter services.

"We have ordered eight N219 aircraft. Perhaps, this is the first order. We hope that we would be able to operate the aircraft in 2017, thereby replacing older planes that are still active now," President Director of PT Air Born Sazahan Mohamad Yassin stated during the launch of the N219 aircraft at the PTDI Hanger in Bandung on Thursday.

Sazahan noted that the order for the N219 aircraft is part of the companys strategy to seize opportunities in the charter aircraft business, which Air Born has been engaged in so far.

Sazahan said his company is operating six Twin Otter aircraft. Most of them are operated through a charter system.

"The future of the aircraft charter business is promising. We are focusing on providing services for mining and cargo transportation," he revealed.

The company has already secured financing guarantees for the purchase of the PTDI aircraft, he said, adding that he believed the N219 aircraft was of high quality.

"PTDI has proven its credibility with regard to the quality, convenience, and security of its aircraft. They are needed for pioneer flights and charter services," he added.

He affirmed that his companys trust in PTDIs aircraft was built after observing its CN235 and N212 aircraft, which have been used by several countries.

"The N219 has excellent transportation capacity, and we will use it to increase the number of aircraft in our cargo transportation fleet," noted Sazahan.

Reporter: Andi Abdussalam
Editor: Priyambodo RH
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