The Jakarta Post
The Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT) is planning to buy a locally made aircraft to strengthen its effort in forest fire prevention through artificial rain.
The agency will purchase the NC-212 plane, which is manufactured by state-owned aircraft maker PT Dirgantara Indonesia. BPPT head Hammam Riza signed a letter of intent (LoI) at PT Dirgantara Indonesia in Bandung, West Java, on Monday.
"We plan to buy the plane in 2020-2021. The plane will be used in cloud seeding to create artificial rain," Hammam said, adding that the Rp 260 billion (US$186 million) plane would be used to create artificial rain and eventually help prevent forest fires.
According to him, the BPPT was currently using 1993's NC-212 planes produced by Dirgantara, but the number is limited. "The BPPT's planes are very limited. We usually borrow planes from the Indonesian Air Force when forest fires strike," he said.
Hammad added neighboring countries were currently heavily investing in aircraft for rain-making purposes. He also expressed hopes that the new NC-212 plane could provide better cloud sowing machines.
He said that currently the BPPT operated a conventional cloud seeding method by scattering salt through seeding funnels, however such practices carried health risks for plane operators and crews.
Dirgantara Indonesia president director Elfien Goentoro said the new NC-212 would be able to carry up to 300 kg of salt. The company was also making nine NC-212 planes for the Defense Ministry at the moment, he added. "Some of the nine planes were intended for creating artificial rain."
Elfien expressed hope that the BPPT could sign a purchasing contract by the end of January next year. "We have a lot of orders at the moment, so we hope the BPPT can sign a purchasing contract as soon as possible," he said, adding that it would take 18 months to made an NC-212 plane after the contract was signed. (nal)