Indonesia has long wanted to play a leading role in the global aerospace industry. Since the 1970s, Indonesian Aerospace (then IPTN) has been producing aircraft under license and in the 1980s it took its most important step by becoming a partner of CASA (now part of Airbus) to develop the CN-235 turboprop.
But the country has always wanted to have its own indigenous aircraft and that dream almost came true in the 1990s with the N-250 passenger turboprop, which resembled the ATR. The step, however, was very ambitious and ended up being canceled at the end of that decade after the financial crisis in the region.
A few years later, IPTN began to develop a smaller project, N219, as a replacement for the C-212, a small passenger turboprop produced under a license from CASA. Like this aircraft, the new plane would have a capacity for 19 passengers or 2.3 tons of cargo, in addition to high wing and PT6A engines.
The project progressed slowly and only in August 2017 did the first prototype take off for the first time, followed by a second test plane in 2018. After a certification campaign, last week the aircraft received approval from the General Directorate of Civil Aviation of Indonesia, paving the way for its series production.
Renamed as PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PTDI), or Indonesia Aerospace, the country’s state-owned manufacturer has announced that it will start production of four units this year and will be delivered in 2022 to the Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam Provincial Government. In addition to these planes, the company stated that it has several letters of intent, such as from customers in Turkey.
The company’s next goal is to obtain the type certificate from EASA, the European civil aviation agency and has the support of Airbus, of whom it is a long-standing partner.
The N219 aims to compete for customers in the category of light non-pressurized turboprops such as the DHC-6 Twin Otter and the new Cessna SkyCourier. In this segment, it is important to offer versatile performance, capable of being quickly converted to transport passengers or cargo, in addition to operating on short and unprepared runways. The Indonesian aircraft is priced between $ 5.8 million and $ 6 million.