The Jakarta Post
Privately owned domestic-aircraft manufacturer PT Regio Aviasi Industri (RAI) is struggling to find investors to fund a multi-million dollar project to develop commercial Regio Prop 80 airplanes, known as R80s.
RAI commissioner Ilham Akbar Habibie, the son of former president BJ Habibie, said that his firm needed investment amounting to US$700 million to build an assembling factory at the Kertajati International Airport area in Majalengka, West Java. The location was a part of a deal sealed by the firm's parent company, PT Ilthabi Rekatama with the West Java administration-run company PT Bandara Internasional Jawa Barat (BIJB).
'They are committed to providing us with a land plot,' he said on Thursday as quoted by local newspapers, adding that in return, Ilthabi Rekatama would assist the administration in building an international airport in Kertajati and an aviation-related industrial area near the airport. The assembly plant is projected to have a production capacity of 24 airplanes annually.
State-run aircraft manufacturer PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PT DI), developed by former president Habibie, would produce the plane's materials in an effort to keep investment costs low.
Ilham said that currently RAI planned to offer PT DI a joint venture, and that the latter would not be required to inject capital. PT DI's contribution could be in the form of providing production facilities and aeronautical experts.
He added that RAI was also in discussions with several private companies, though he did not elaborate on any details.
PT DI is well-known for its self-manufactured turboprop plane, the Nusantara 250, or N250, which conducted its maiden flight on Aug. 10, 1995. In 1998, Indonesia came close to having the plane certified as airworthy by US and European regulators, but the plane's development was halted when the monetary crisis hit the nation. Meanwhile, R80 development is planned to be completed by 2019 and in commercial production by 2021.
Last year, Ilham projected that the plane would be able to make its maiden flight in 2018.
'The production takes a long time because it needs to abide by strict air regulations,' he was quoted as saying by kompas.com. He said that three airlines, namely Nam Air, Kalstar and Trigana Air, had ordered 155 airplanes, with each plane priced between $22 million and $25 million.
Each plane has a passenger capacity of 80 to 90 people and can cruise for 1,000 miles.
The archipelagic terrain of Indonesia makes air transportation important in connecting its approximately 17,000 islands. This has caused airline companies operating in Indonesia to mushroom and expand. Furthermore, the aviation industry has grown sharply in recent years thanks to the introduction of budget airlines, which have in turn encouraged local carriers to further expand their fleets.
Indonesia's largest private airline, Lion Air, is looking forward to gradually receiving 794 new aircraft until 2030. During the Paris Air Show in June, state-owned carrier Garuda Indonesia and private carrier PT Sriwijaya Air Group signed orders with Boeing and France-based aircraft manufacturer Airbus.
Garuda placed orders for 60 new planes from Boeing and 30 wide-body planes from Airbus to handle new long-haul and mid-range routes. Meanwhile, Sriwijaya signed an order for 20 Boeing 737s to expand the carrier's domestic and international network.
According to data from the Central Statistics Bureau (BPS), the number of airline passengers traveling within the archipelago in the January to March period of this year rose 13 percent to 15.2 million from 13.5 million in the same period of last year. (prm)
To receive comprehensive and
earlier access to The Jakarta Post print edition, please subscribe to our epaper
through iOS' iTunes, Android's Google Play, Blackberry World or Microsoft's
Windows Store. Subscription includes free daily editions of The Nation, The
Star Malaysia, the Philippine Daily Inquirer and Asia News.
Your premium period will expire in 0 day(s)close x