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Monday, 9 November 2015

Indonesia Introduces New Aircraft Age Restrictions

The Indonesian Ministry of Transport has announced additional restrictions on locally-registered aircraft. The Indonesian Civil Aviation Regulations have been amended to prohibit the import, registration and use of commercial passenger aircraft older than ten years, and freighter aircraft of more than fifteen years.

Existing commercial passenger and freighter aircraft currently in service with local operators may not exceed thirty years of age. The Indonesian carriers have been given 36 months to comply with the regulation.

At this time the effect of the regulations on the current twenty-nine locally registered Twin Otters is unknown. The only aircraft that would meet the requirements of the amendment are the Series 400 aircraft flown by Airfast Indonesia. A grounding of the remaining series 300 aircraft, even by 15-Oct-2018 would have far reaching implications to the rural air transport system in the archipelago. 

Interestingly, the state-owned aircraft manufacturer Indonesian Aerospace is expected to roll-out the first prototypes of their N219 aircraft, marketed as a "Twin Otter Replacement" in 2016. So far, the type has only seen a single confirmed order for 20 aircraft by Nusantara Buana Air. Any requirement to prohibit the operation of the older series Twin Otters would effectively force local operators to either upgrade to Viking Series 400 airframes, or acquire the Indonesian built N219. 

The Indonesian regulator has made considerable progress in enacting regulations related to ensuring local operators are financially stable, that they maintain a minimum number of aircraft, and now that those aircraft meet an arbitrary age criteria. These amendments are progress, and need to be acknowledged accordingly - however incidents and accidents continue to occur at an appalling rate. Unfortunately you can't help but wonder if these changes were really the correct priorities in improving the country's air safety.