South Korea is biggest buyer of CN-235 Aircraft

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - South Korea which has become the biggest buyer of Indonesian-made CN-235 airplanes is a potential market for aircraft maker PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PT DI)`s products.

Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Hatta Rajasa has expressed hope that South Korea would increase the number of its CN-235 planes in the future from the 12 CN-235 aircraft it has ordered (ten already delivered).

"Now, South Korea is using CN-235 airplanes. We hope South Korea will increase the number of its CN-235 fleet," Hatta said when opening the Indonesia-Korea Working Level Task Force Meeting in Nusa Dua, Bali, on Wednesday.

So far, South Korea is still the biggest buyer of CN-235s followed by Malaysia which has purchased 8 units. The minister was of the view that South Korea liked CN-235 planes better than CASA aircraft of the same type.

"South Korea feels that CN-235 is more comfortable so that we offered it again to them," the minister said.

After all, South Korea is the biggest market for the Indonesian made airplanes.

"South Korea has ordered the biggest number of CN 235 aircraft so far in addition to orders from other countries," Hatta said.

He said South Korea had been attracted by the Indonesian made aircraft because in terms of reliability and cruising speed it could compete with planes made by other countries.

"Even now Korea plans to increase the quota of its CN 235 aircraft purchase," he said adding that compared to Casa aircraft, the quality of CN 235 is better. "This is what the Koreans have said. The CN 235 is far better than Casas. Therefore they are interested in purchasing more," he said.

According to on Wednesday, PT DI was trying to increase its marketing performance and raise CN-235 plane deliveries from the average of three units to six units per annum beginning in 2006. It acknowledged that sales proceeds per annum in 2006 was Rp1.239 trillion.

In 2009, PT DI was building one of the four CN-235s ordered by South Korea whose deliveries would be carried out in stages beginning in November 2010. The value of the contract was US$90 million. The deal was concluded after South Korea had previously purchased 8 units of the planes.

The second to be dispatched of the four ordered by South Korea was sent last week on May 12, 2011. Two others would be dispatched later.

The CN-235 airplanes ordered by South Korea would be used as Search and Rescue (SAR) aircraft, or CN-235 Korea Cost Guard. This plane is equipped with tools for carrying out evacuation by the SAR team.

The CN-235 Korea Coast Guard plane delivered in May 12, 2011 was series 57. There were two other CN-235, namely series 58 and 59 to be delivered to South Korea in the future.

Hatta said he himself had observed an increasing interest in the aircraft in the international market. "In the opening speech just now I explicitly said that we wish to produce more CN 235s," he said.

Early this month (May 5), PT DI also delivered CN-235-220 AT to Senegal. It was directly presented by PT DI president director Budi Santoso to the representatives of the Senegalese government. Last year, PT DI also delivered one unit of the same type aircraft to the Senegalese government. The value of the two aircraft was US$13 million.

"This is the second aircraft delivered by PT DI to Senegal. The first one was dispatched on November 2010," Budi Santoso said.

Fajar Media Center in its online said that CN-235 were needed by many countries which were worried by sea pirates, smuggling, illegal immigrants, especially because buffalo type aircraft were not longer produced.

To monitor and supervise developments on the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea where many countries have overlapping claims, for example, the Malaysian and Brunei Darussalam`s militaries used CN-235 aircraft produced by PT DI.

Some countries that are using CN-235s include Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam, Thailand, Pakistan, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates. South Korea has ordered 12 units, Malaysia 8 units, United Arab Emirates 7 units, Pakistan 4 units, Senegal 2 units, Thailand 2 units. Brunei Darussalam 1 unit, Burkina Faso 1 unit.

In Pakistan, the CN-235 aircraft are used a a military transport plane, in Malaysia as a military VVIP (for the prime minister and the king) transport. "This type of plane is not only used for passengers but also for various functions, even as a presidential plane," Budiman Saleh, PT DI. Financial director, was quoted by Fajar Online as saying.

Regarding the use of the aircraft at home, Hatta said he would optimize it. So far, at home, a total of nine units of CN-235 has been used by the Air Force, seven of which had been grounded due to lack of maintenance funds. State-owned Merpati Nusantara Airlines has used 15 units but it has returned most them.

"In the future, we will push for more use of the aircraft to serve inter-island routes in the country," he said.(*)