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BJ Habibie: Indonesia’s president who pioneered the country’s aircraft industry

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Indonesia’s top engineer and former president, Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie or B.J. Habibie, who built the country’s aircraft industry from scratch, died at the age of 83 in Jakarta on Wednesday.

The brilliant scientist studied in the Netherlands and Germany and worked for German aerospace manufacturer Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm before Indonesia’s second president, Suharto, asked him to return to Indonesia. He established the country’s first aircraft manufacturer, Nurtanio Aircraft Industry, known as IPTN, in 1976.

The state-owned company grew to become a subcontractor to the world’s major aircraft manufacturers, such as Boeing, Airbus, General Dynamics and Fokker.

Forward thinking

Pak Habibie became Indonesia’s research and technology minister in 1978.

During his leadership, he was known for his pioneering breakthroughs and forward thinking in adopting research and technology for industrial purposes.

He changed Indonesia’s policy on industrial development from being economically driven to focusing on higher technology.

Before Habibie served as minister of research and technology, Indonesia developed its industries based on economists’ calculations of efficiency and profitability, focusing more on labor-intensive and resource-based industries. But he introduced the importance of developing strategic........

© Asian Correspondent