Indonesia’s N219 turboprop achieved its first flight on Wednesday, just ahead of the country’s 72nd Independence Day. The N219, designed and built by state-owned company PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PTDI), took off from the Bandung Husein Sastranegara International Airport at around 9:30 a.m. local time and flew a little under 30 minutes. The achievement marks Indonesia’s first indigenous aircraft development since the ill-fated IPTN N250, advancement of which fizzled after several hundred hours of flight testing under the weight of the Asian financial meltdown in the late 1990s. Indonesia produces the NC212 Aviocar and CN-235 under license from Spain’s CASA.
PTDI expects the N219 to prove useful in serving far-flung destinations in the country’s vast archipelago, reaching isolated areas with short dirt runways. According to PTDI’s specifications, the N219 carries a maximum takeoff weight of 15,500 pounds and can take off on runways as short as 1,493 feet with maximum load. Powered by two 850-shp Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-42 turboprops, the unpressurized airplane flies to a maximum range of 828 nautical miles. Garmin’s G1000 integrated avionics suite powers its glass cockpit.
The N219 program started in 2013 and the first prototype rolled out in late 2015. Although PTDI initially had targeted first flight for 2015 and then 2016, not until early August of this year did the aircraft perform high-speed and lift tests. The program cost now totals 827 billion rupiah (U.S. $61.8 million), 60 percent of which the Indonesian National Institute of Aeronautics and Space (LAPAN) has committed to providing.
However, PTDI president director Budi Santoso told Indonesian media that the project still requires another 200 billion rupiah (U.S. $14.9 million) for testing to achieve airworthiness certifications.
PTDI said the N219 can carry as many as 19 passengers or serve in cargo lift, medical evacuation, search-and-rescue and maritime surveillance roles.
Indonesia's minister of research and technology and higher education, Muhammad Nasir, estimated a market potential for 200 aircraft but he did not reveal potential buyers. PTDI’s Bandung assembly plant holds enough production capacity to build 24 aircraft a year.