"They have to be manufactured soon. We will design the airplane this year and assemble it next year. By 2015, we hope it will have flown," the companys president director, Budi Santoso, said during the Industry Minister MS Hidayats visit to the company along with the Minister of National Development Planning Armida Alisjahbana here on Friday.
He said most of the planes were ordered by domestic airline companies and regional governments.
He admitted that the orders were still in the form of memorandums of understanding.
"Usually a memorandum of understanding comes first and only after the airplane is flying a contract is signed," he said.
He added that an N219 plane can carry 19 passengers and so it has the potential for use in the country. He estimated that the need for it could reach to 100 to 150 airplanes.
"Our sales target has been set at a minimum of 100. Our priority is to meet the domestic demand before it is exported to neighboring countries," he said.
The companys marketing vice president, Arie Wibowo, meanwhile said so far PT DI has signed MOUs for the sales of 120 planes, with 50 of them already confirmed, 50 others potential and 20 to PT Merpati Nusantara, which is now still not operating.
"The price of N219 planes is competitive as compared to that of the Twin Otter and the Cessna Caravan," he said.
He said N219 is sold at only US$4-5 million per unit, while the Twin Otter and the Cessna Caravan could reach US$6-7 million per unit.
The director general of high technology-based prime industries, Budi Darmadi, said N219 is suitable for conditions in Indonesia that need many short-haul flights and have many short runways.
"Initially the type was designed for Papua that is hilly and is difficult to access by land transportation," he said.
He added that the aircraft only needs about 500 meters of runway to land, so it is suitable for feeder flights of mostly two hours duration.(*)