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Singapore Airshow 2016

14 February 2016

Let the show begin!

F15 2006

F15E on display at a previous airshow. Pic/Shukor Yusof

Asia Pacific’s largest airshow starts on 16 February in Singapore, with the organisers hopeful it could match or even surpass the contributions (SGD319 million) that were generated into the local economy at the last show in February 2014.

Close to 150,000 visitors from 125 countries attended then. The money made from that airshow was a 25% increase from 2012’s edition, according to marketing consultancy Kadence International. Foreign visitors spent some SGD285 million two years ago – a 30% rise from 2012.

Typically, international participants make up close to 90% of spending, said the Experia Events, the organizer. Most of it were spent on travel and accommodation, event and exhibition space and other related activities. This year’s show will see at least 75% of those exhibitors returning.

This is the fifth edition of the Singapore Airshow, which started in 2008. Previously it was known as Asian Aerospace and was first hosted in 1981. It was organised by Reed Exhibitions (Asian Aerospace). Reed could not agree with the Singapore government over development plans for new site in Changi, hence the organiser decided to move to Hong Kong, where the event was called Asian Aerospace International Expo & Congress.

Asian Aerospace tshirt 1996

Blast from the past… Souvenir t-shirt from Asian Aerospace 1996. Pic/Shukor Yusof

The Singapore Airshow is said to be the world’s 3rd biggest after the ones in Le Bourget (France) and Farnborough (UK). And the organisers are confident that, notwithstanding the turmoil in the global markets and a tepid growth in China, the Singapore Airshow will maintain its position as one of the top draws in the aerospace calendar.

This airshow will focus on the emerging technologies, said Experia, to showcase new techniques such as 3-D printing and other forms of additive manufacturing. Another area is the growing importance of information technology in aerospace and latest developments in in-flight entertainment (IFE), particularly those systems using wireless Internet streaming.

What are the main attractions?

Leahy 2006 airshow

He’s an attraction! Airbus COO John Leahy. Pic/Shukor Yusof

Apart from the major manufacturers (Airbus and Boeing) showcasing their products, other smaller aircraft makers such as Bombardier (Canada), Embraer (Brazil) and Mitsubishi (Japan) will also take the spotlight to pitch their regional jets. Indeed, shorter-range, regional jets that seat between 60-120 passengers could provide the excitement this coming week.

Bombardier is displaying its newly-certified CS100 in SWISS colours, along with the Challenger 650 and Global 6000 business jets. The Canadians have also got a Nok Air’s Q400 turboprop plane on display and no doubt will also want to publicise its recent order from China Express for 10 CRJ900s.

Bombardier CRJ900 2006

Bombardier CRJ900. Pic/Shukor Yusof

Brazil’s Embraer will have its Legacy 500 on static display for the first time. Hong Kong superstar Jackie Chan has one of these, as well as a Legacy 650 (Jackie Chan talks about Embraer). But Embraer’s most exciting display is the mockup of the interior of its E2 jet, which provides a very impressive array of innovative cabin interior concepts unlike what we’ve seen before. This should prove quite a draw. At 2014’s airshow Air Costa (India) ordered 50 E2 jets with options for 50 more. The initial contract was valued at almost USD3 billion, with the first aircraft delivering in 2018. The rollout of the E190-E2 is slated for 25 February at Embraer’s HQ in Sao Jose dos Campos.

Meanwhile, Japan’s Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp, the maker of the MRJ, said it will aggressively promote the plane at the airshow and that there’s been “some hopeful talks in business meetings” (Mitsubishi MRJ) although it’s unclear when the new aircraft ill actually enter service. The plane made its maiden flight on 11 Nov. 2015 but initial delivery is now aimed for mid-2018 (four years than when it was supposed to take place), although we believe it’s unlikely that is going to happen given the track record of delays the project has encountered.

Gulfstream 2006

Gulfstream’s business jets. Pic/Shukor Yusof

Due to the rather tepid global financial situation and expectations of more turmoil in the markets, it would appear unlikely that Singapore Airshow 2016 could top the deals that were inked in 2014. Some USD32 billion worth of contracts were sealed in 2014, up 3% from 2012. Participating companies numbered 1,018, which was up 13% the previous event.

At the same time this airshow would be the first since the signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in October 2015. The TPP brings together 12 Pacific Rim nations in the areas of trade, investment and regulatory accord. As U.S. companies are among the largest exhibitors this coming week, the TPP is very much going to have direct repercussions during meetings and negotiations between American business heads and their Asian counterparts.

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