Paul Lewis/JAKARTA

INDONESIA'S Directorate General of Air Communications (DGAC) has ordered IPTN to stop licence production of the Bell 412 until it conforms with US Federal Aviation Administration regulations.

Production halted in September after a joint audit of IPTN's Bandung plant by the FAA and the DGAC, revealed that some Bell 412 design data were missing or outdated. The inspection also uncovered misuse of manufacturing manuals and poor communications between IPTN and Bell Fort Worth.

The two regulatory authorities have been conducting a validation of the helicopter's type certification in Indonesia as part of a wider programme to bring the DGAC's airworthiness procedures and regulations in line with those of the FAA.

Rakhmat Condrogumono, head of IPTN's airworthiness department, confirms that, during an audit in August, IPTN's design data were "...found to be unsatisfactory". He adds that the inspection also found a "...lack of discipline in the use of appropriate manuals to inspect, process and manufacture parts".

IPTN has produced 27 civil-standard Bell 412 helicopters since 1983 for the Indonesian military and local operators. Immediately after IPTN's shortcomings were discovered, all civil-operated 412s were grounded until inspected by the DGAC. Five completed helicopters have remained unsold.

According to Condrogumono, IPTN is working to rectify the problem. "We need to create procedures between IPTN and Bell to satisfy the FAA and DGAC," he says. Both manufacturers are scheduled to meet with the two authorities in Fort Worth early this month to review progress, after which IPTN hopes to re-start production.

The 412 stoppage is being used by the DGAC to demonstrate its tighter control and increased assertiveness. Observers have voiced concern about its power and ability to regulate IPTN, which is headed by the country's Minister of Research and Technology, Dr Bacharuddin Habibie.

"If he [Habibie] is not in line with us and the FAA's rules, we can say no," states DGAC director-general Zainuddin Sikado

The DGAC further revealed that IPTN had earlier rushed production of 1,000 small components for its new N-250 turboprop aircraft. The parts were eventually cleared after it was determined that they were non-critical.

Type certification of the indigenous N-250, together with validation of the 412 and locally assembled General Electric CT-7 turboprop engine, are intended to lead to a bilateral airworthiness treaty between Indonesia and the USA.

Source: Flight International