Indonesian Aerospace (IAe) is embarking on the development of a 19-seat turboprop, which could compete with the Viking Twin Otter and China’s Harbin Y-12F.

The N219 is the first indigenous aircraft to be developed in Indonesia since the IPTN N250 50-seat turboprop, with plans to fly a first prototype in 2015, and obtain certification from the Indonesian authorities in 2016. International certification will follow later.

“There are communities in Eastern Indonesia which are very remote, and it is too costly to build roads to them, so the only way to support them is by air,” says PTDI marketing manager Teguh Graito.

Market studies for the 19-seater began back in 2006, and the program is now fully backed, with development expected to cost roughly $80 million.

Detailed design is currently under way, with designers looking to improve on the Twin Otter’s performance by increasing the height and the width of the cabin, allowing three-abreast seating with a 32-inch pitch for the 19 seats. The N219 will have a payload of 5,000 lb (2,313 kg). IAe has selected the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-42 turboprop and the Garmin 950 avionics suite.

The company is currently building new hangar and production facilities for the N219 at its Bandung plant with plans to build 12 a year, expanding to 24 a year later. The program has already generated considerable interest in Indonesia. Low-cost airline Lionair has signed up for 50 aircraft, with options for a further 50 to provide feeder services around the country, while Nusantara Buana Air (NBA), a small regional carrier working out of Banda Aceh in western Indonesia, has signed an MoU for 20 aircraft, with options for a further 10.

While IAe’s priority will be commercial sales, the company is also looking at multi-mission capabilities for the aircraft for possible military and parapublic operations.

IAe are now the sole source of what was the CASA (now Airbus Defence and Space) C212, offering a new variant called the NC212i. The company has also developed a winglet system for the Airbus C235, which IAe builds in-country as the CN235-220.

Two prototypes of the N250 were built and completed 800 flying hours before funding from the Indonesian government was halted during the Asian economic crisis in 1997. But IAe engineers are using experience from that program to develop the N219.