Indonesian woman in a market

Bridging islands: how planes connect people in Indonesia

Discover how aviation fosters social development and serves as a vital lifeline in a country of over 17,000 islands

In the vast and diverse landscape of Indonesia, a country of over 17,000 islands, planes have emerged as a crucial lifeline, connecting people and communities. This is exemplified by a small airline, Susi Air, which uses a number of aircraft made by European aerospace companies to provide links between Indonesia’s major trading centres and some of the world’s most remote communities.

Indonesia presents a unique challenge for transport planners. The construction of roads and railways is difficult because of vast mountain ranges and thick jungles. Even with over 650 airfields, many are little more than 250m grass strips running up the side of a mountain. Yet, these tiny airstrips often serve as the only link many people have with the rest of the country.

Over the last decade, Susi Air has grown from a two-aircraft operation into a 50-aircraft airline connecting the interior of the country to the outside world. With its fleet of mainly single-engined aircraft, the airline delivers aid, carries out vital survey work, and even flies surfers to popular surf destinations on the West Coast of Sumatra.

Reaching these remote communities is no easy task. Pilots have to contend with active volcanoes, virtually no air traffic control support, take-off and landing routes that thread through mountain passes, livestock on the runway, and extreme and changeable weather conditions. This leaves no room for error, making these pilots some of the most resourceful aviators in the world.

Despite the challenges, the airline has pioneered a large number of new routes to villages with no other developed transport links.

The story of this airline is a testament to the power of the aerospace industry in connecting people, especially in regions where geographical challenges make other forms of transport impractical. It highlights the potential of aviation to serve as a vital lifeline for remote communities, fostering social development. The aerospace industry, through its ability to overcome geographical barriers, truly has the power to connect the world.

Source: Aviation Benefits Beyond Borders