Indonesia needs a national aviation blueprint

20
Former Chief of Staff of the Indonesian Air Force Chappy Hakim. (Photo: Prive. Doc)

IO – Both local and global aviation industries have been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. No less than 85% of airline companies have extremely reduced income due to the global pandemic. Former Chief of Staff of the Indonesian Air Force Chappy Hakim states that global aviation is in the worst straits, as never seen before. Various studies estimate that it will take at least 3-5 years before the aviation industry can recover. The pandemic’s impact is more deeply shattering than that of the global economic crisis of 1997 or the 9/11 tragedy on 09 September 2001. “IATA (International Air Transport Association) issued the most optimistic prediction that we can return to normalcy in 2023, but most others said that the situation will not recover 100% within three years, that it would take at least 3-5 years,” he said in the virtual discussion “Reviewing Post-COVID Global Aviation: Where is Indonesia’s Aviation Headed?” jointly held by the Association of Indonesian-German Experts and Scholars (Ikatan Ahli dan Sarjana Indonesia Jerman – “IASI Jerman”), the Habibie Program Alumni Association (Ikatan Alumni Program Habibie – “IABIE”), and the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia for Germany in Berlin on Sunday (12/07/2020). 

Chappy further stated that it will be hard for Indonesia’s flight industry to recover quickly if the Government does not intervene. The basis for successful achievement of targets is to get everyone involved, especially the Government, to understand Indonesia’s real condition. “Indonesia is a highly strategic country located between two continents and two oceans. In other words, Indonesia is a four-way crossing – it goes both East-West and North- South. Indonesia’s landscape contains both islands and forests,” he said. 

Chappy hopes that the Government will prepare an adequate aviation system, as the current one is facing a lot of challenges. “It is a sine qua non. It is a mandatory requirement to maintain the existence of a complicated country like Indonesia. Our great weakness is the fact that Indonesia does not have any national aviation masterplan or flight blueprint. Institutional HR at strategic level is weak, so that policies made by policy makers generally do not include inputs from relevant competent persons. Consequently, these policies do not solve issues optimally,” he said. 

Furthermore, aviation HR faces many challenges. There is no obvious vision for national safety and defense in aviation, meaning that civil and military aviation have not merged well. “Many of the policies taken by Indonesia’s national aviation authority are still based on commercial civil flight. They do not consider military aviation perspective, i.e. flight in the context of the State’s safety and defense,” Chappy said. “For example, America has established its own aviation security and transportation administration. American airports share the load of their national civil commercial aviation as a single global track. On the contrary, when Indonesia notes that civil aviation has expanded to such an extent that Cengkareng suffers from over capacity, part of civil aviation was moved unceremoniously to the national air defense system headquarters in Halim, without prior consideration or sufficient preparation,” he said. 

Chappy stated that the Government’s set of priorities towards the aviation industry has become questionable. The N245 and R80 planes have been taken out of the national strategic plan. The reality is that trust in our aviation industry is very low. “PT DI (Dirgantara Indonesia) as our primary airplane factory does not seem to be training for a new generation to take over,” he said. 

Similarly, Aviation Council Expert Prof. Ing. Yulfian Aminanda encourages the Government to pay attention to Indonesia’s aviation again. Currently, there are only two major domestic aviation companies, Garuda Indonesia and Lion Air, while Indonesia used to have Merpati airlines and several independent airplane charter companies. On the other hand, our cargo flights continue to prosper. 

National Aviation Expert Ing. Imam Birowo also encourages the Government to quickly create a roadmap for national aviation. If the Government predicts that Indonesia will rise in 2030 and become glorious in 2045, then it should encourage the growth of the aviation industry, as this industry strongly affects economic growth. “The number of passengers increased greatly in 2007-2015. This in fact encouraged the growth of the national economy. More specifically, Indonesia as an archipelagic country requires a reliable aviation industry to cover inter-island transport and travels. The national aviation industry is a highly strategic piece that helps the independence of our national economy by opening up job opportunities,” he said. 

Many international aviation companies and their subsidiaries have collapsed during the COVID-19 pandemic and are forced to dismiss their thousands of employees. Sad as it may be, it might prove to become an opportunity for our domestic aviation industry with its many variations in the aviation ecosystem. “Our national aviation industry should be able to satisfy market demand for various international aviation requirements, such as airplane components to be supplied to major companies such as Airbus. This is a great opportunity that needs Government support,” he said. (dan)