Susi Pudjiastuti and her husband Christian Von Strombeck started Susi Air back in 2004 with initially only 2 Cessna Caravan. These aircraft were purchased in order to ferry lobster from South Java to Jakarta for export, seafood being Susi’s main business at the time. In the aftermath of the terrible Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, these aircraft helped out in the relief effort, flying equipment, medicine and staff in and out of the hardest hit areas. As such, Susi Air started operations. A base was set up in Medan in 2005 with 3 aircraft and both scheduled and charter flying began.
Over the years more Caravans were added to the fleet and more bases opened up across the Indonesian Archipelago. As of August 2012, the company operates in and out of the following bases: Jakarta, Pangandaran (training centre and HQ) Medan, Bengkulu, Ketapang, Balikpapan, Tarakan, Malinau, Kupang, Biak, Nabire, Manokwari, Wamena and Sentani. The flying is a mix of scheduled and charter routes, with many of them being government subsidized flying into very remote locations. A feeder program has been set up with Garuda Indonesia in order to reach the farthest corners of the country. Susi Air now conducts over 200 flights a day, making it one of the biggest part 135 operators in Indonesia.
Today the total fleet stands at around 50 aircraft, of which around 35 are Caravans, most with the Garmin G1000 avionics suite. These are flown with 2 crew in a multi-crew environment adhering to strict company SOP’s. The company also owns and operates 3 Piaggio Avanti for corporate and medivac flying, 6 Pilatus Porter for mountain flying in Kalimantan and Papua, and 2 helicopters based in Jakarta. More Porters and Caravans are on their way, and rumours of 3 Dornier 228’s arriving soon, persist.
Susi Air has been going through a tough year with the unfortunate loss of 3 aircraft and 4 crew members due to a variety of unlucky factors (weather, runway incursion, dangerous mountain ops etc). As such, a major restructuring of the company has been underway and new management and safety measurements (including internal and external audits) have been put in place to analyze and enhance the safety culture within the organization in order to live up to international standards.
With over 200 pilots working for Susi Air, most of them foreign due to the ongoing pilot shortage in Indonesia and the fact that most locals get snapped up by the airlines as soon as they graduate flying school, Susi Air is a very multi-cultural and diverse workplace. It is a great place to get hours quickly and to learn the CRM and multi-crew skills that are needed once entering the airlines. If you feel like this might be something for you, then please browse through this blog to find all the information you need.