IPTN has been forced to delay scheduled certification of the N250-100 until late 2000, as the Indonesian company seeks international support for the twin turboprop programme and the planned follow-on N2130 jet development.

IPTN vice-president Ilham Habibie, speaking exclusively to Flight International, states: "We're no longer receiving any support from the Government and loans for the development of the N-250 have been discontinued. We're now in the middle of trying to refinance the project and this is having an impact-the reality is the aircraft won't be certified before the last quarter of 2000."

The Indonesian manufacturer had been targeting March 1999 for type certification by the European Joint Airworthiness Authorities, followed nine months later by US Federal Aviation Administration approval. This, however, hinged, on completion of the third (PA3) and a fourth (PA4) fully compliant N250 prototypes for flight validation. The former had been scheduled to fly in May.

"We now hope to have PA3 in the air by the end of this year, but that depends on financing coming through in order for it to happen," says Habibie. Company efforts are now focused on pursuing a range of options, from raising commercial financing to recruiting risk sharing co-production partners.

Habibie declines to identify potential partners in talks with IPTN, or to disclose how much money is needed to complete the 64-68-seat aircraft programme. "There's not very much left to do and, if you shelve the programme now, it would be a total loss," he argues. Work on the 70-seat stretch N270 for the North American market has been frozen until the N250 is certificated.

Jakarta has been forced to cut off funding for IPTN and other state-run industries to meet conditions set by the International Monetary Fund for a $43 billion bail-out of the financially stricken economy. Indonesia's new president and former head of IPTN, Bacharuddin Habibie, Ilham Habibie's father, has reportedly stated that he is prepared to pull the plug on "high technology projects."

Plans to develop a 100-130-seat passenger jet, the N2130, are now seriously threatened. The programme was intended to be backed by an independent fund raising vehicle, the DSTP, headed by Indonesia's now ousted president Suharto and former cabinet secretary Saadi Lah Mursjid.

IPTN has also embarked on a search for co-development partners for the N2130 and is known to have talked to Hindustan Aeronautics and Taiwan's AIDC. "I've talked to seven Asian, European and US companies, but everything is still in the preliminary stage. Our proposal is to complete preliminary design, but I don't have a firm commitment from DSTP to proceed," concedes the new president's son.

Source: Flight International