Indonesia hopes to show that unsophisticated airplanes can sell, too. Prototype 19-seater will fly soon.

Rolled out on Dec. 10, the N219 turboprop has yet to fly, and so is not able to take its place as star exhibit representing PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PTDI) at this year’s Singapore Airshow. Nevertheless, it is here in spirit, as the embodiment of the fresh, “can-do” spirit at the company’s Bandung headquarters.

A decade ago, PTDI was still under the command of its founder, B. J. Habibie, and enthused with ambitious plans for the N250 50-seat turboprop and a regional jet airliner. But financial realities got in the way, and Dr. Habibie moved on to become president of the Indonesian republic.

His aeronautical successor, director-general Budi Santoso, has the more modest goal of producing a light transport best suited to the smaller (500-meter) airstrips of Indonesia’s remoter areas. This, it seems, is not pleasing all of the people all of the time.

“Every meeting Mr. Habibie scolded us,” recalls Budi. “Habibie says, ‘Are you going to continue making toys? It’s a toy; a small plane!’”

Small it may be, but Budi notes that the manually flown N219 is designed and built with a higher level of technology than the fly-by-wire N250.

And it seems to be pleasing customers, too. Lion Air set the ball rolling with a 2014 provisional order for 50, plus 50 options. Early last year, Buana Air placed an order for 20 plus 10 options; Aviastar Mandiri for 20 plus 10; and Trigana Air Service for 10 plus five. At time of roll-out, Air Born revealed an order for eight.

The hope is to sell 200 over five to 10 years, starting off with 12 per year, and increasing to 24.

With a cantilever, high wing and fixed landing gear, the N219 is powered by a pair of 634 kW (850-shp) Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-42 turboprops driving Hartzell four-blade metal propellers. Price is around US$4.5 million.