JAKARTA-(IDB) : Budi Santoso, president director of Dirgantara Indonesia, has said the Bandung-based aircraft manufacturer’s future lies within its partnership with Airbus, the European giant of the skies.
In an interview with the Jakarta Globe in his Bandung office on Wednesday, Budi announced that Dirgantara Indonesia is pushing ahead with a joint venture with its long-time partner, Airbus.
“I hope to see Airbus Indonesia next year,” he added.
Dirgantara Indonesia’s partnership with Toulouse-based Airbus dates back to the 1970s, when the former acquired a licence to manufacture the light helicopter NBO-105. The local company has produced a total of 120 of the helicopters to date.
Additionally, the aircraft manufacturer also produces components and parts for several Airbus aircraft models.
The global aircraft industry is dominated by Airbus and its American rival, Boeing, and Budi noted “there are few places you can go in the industry without partnering with either Airbus or Boeing.”
Budi said such a partnership will build trust and confidence from consumers as well as improve Dirgantara Indonesia’s technological capabilities.
“We can build an aircraft under our own design or brand, but will people trust us enough to buy it?” he said, acknowledging the fact his company still lacks the capability to develop software and electronics equipment installed in modern aircraft.
“Our engineers are very qualified in the field of aeronautics, but we still have to learn a lot more in terms of developing the brain of an aircraft,” he said, adding that Dirgantara Indonesia wants its future to run a similar course to that of China’s leading computer manufacturer, and the company’s “best example,” Lenovo.
Beijing-based Lenovo started out as a local manufacturer for American IBM up until the former acquired the latter’s personal computer business in 2005. Today, Lenovo is the world’s largest producer of personal computers.
Budi said Dirgantara Indonesia is currently in the process of undergoing stages of rejuvenation.
“The size of our workforce will be bloated for the next three years because we are asking our ageing engineers to stay and teach the younger ones.”
Dirgantara Indonesia does not have plans to expand its current facilities, but the company plans to purchase new equipment that would double or triple its production capacity, according to Budi.
The 38-year-old manufacturer incurred losses for years after the International Monetary Fund asked the Indonesian government to abandon the expensive program as part of their requirement for a bailout in the aftermath of the 1998 Asian financial crisis.
After a series of capital injections by the government, totalling Rp 1.4 trillion ($120.4 million) in 2012, Dirgantara Indonesia began seeing profit, booking net income of Rp 10 billion last year.
The company has also started to regain trust from the country’s lenders to acquire funding, having received “a credit line from local banks of around Rp 4 trillion,” Budi said, adding that what the company needs most at the moment is to stay productive.
“We need projects to keep our engineers busy.”
Dirgantara Indonesia has several projects under its wings, including a joint venture with South Korea in developing the KF-X/IF-X jet fighter, which is expected to boost the company’s technological know-how, according to Budi.
Source : JakartaGlobe