A preview of what to look forward to at this year’s Singapore Air Show on 14-19 February 2012
Next week the Aerospace International team will be reporting from the 2012 Singapore Air Show . Organised by Experia Events the show will run from 14-19 February at the Changi Exhibition Centre with expected participation from around 900 companies representing 50 countries. The first three days of the show will be for trade visitors only, followed by an Education Day for schoolchildren and students on Friday 17th and two public days at the weekend.The Asia-Pacific market is fast becoming the new key driver for the aerospace sector. According to a recent report by consultants Frost & Sullivan, this market is expected to form 30% of an estimated $1.65 trillion in global defence spending in 2016. Additionally the Asia Pacific market is the second largest UAV market after the US with a predicted $11.5bin in annual spending over the next decade.
Commercial battle for orders
Leading the battle for civil aircraft orders will be Boeing and Airbus . With demand cooling in both Europe and the US the Asia-Pacific market is a vital one for both manufacturers. Boeing, which in November announced its biggest ever single order for 230 737s from Indonesian carrier Lion Air, will be flying a 787 Dreamliner to the show which appear with along with the new 747-800 in its ‘Sunrise’ livery. Home carrier Singapore Airlines meanwhile will be displaying a 747-400 as the type retires from the airline. Boeing is optimistic about future prospects, publishing a market survey in late 2011 predicting the sale of up to 1,250 new commercial aircraft to northeast Asian carriers over the next 20 years.
Airbus will also be actively marketing its new aircraft designs to Asia-Pacific customers and the EADS stand will be displaying models of the A350 XWB as well as the re-engined A320neo. Airbus has already been very successful in the Asia-Pacific region with over 1,800 aircraft flying with 85 airlines and a backlog of 1,700 orders for future delivery – and its neo proving a runaway success. However the picture is not all rosy. The chaos in the Indian airline sector, Singapore Airlines losses, and the threat of tit-for-tat sanctions over Europe’s ETS carbon trading scheme, means there is a worry that the Eurozone crisis could further effect growth in this region. Already Air Asia X has withdrawn from London and Paris routes.
Regional airliner rivals
Regional aircraft manufacturers will also be well represented. Embraer, which already has a significant presence in the Asia-Pacific region with 180 commercial aircraft in operation and regional offices in Singapore and Beijing, will have an E190 regional jet in the static park. Bombardier will be bringing its new CRJ 1000 Next Gen regional jet plus a SpiceJet Q400 turboprop. Indonesian carrier Garuda is expected to confirm an order for the CRJ at the show. Also looking for new orders will be ATR from France and Japanese manufacturer Mitsubishi which will be promoting its forthcoming Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ) which is due to make its first flight later this year. In addition, the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) will be at the show marketing its forthcoming ARJ21 regional and C919 narrow-body jet.
Business aviation ramps up
Another anticipated major growth area in the Asia-Pacific region is the business and corporate jet sector. In anticipation of this, there will be a large number of business aircraft on display, including an ACJ318 from Airbus. Embraer will be showing its Lineage 1000 which is the business jet variant of the E190 platform, plus two Phenom 100 and Phenom 300 light jets. There will also be a mock-up of an Embraer 500. Other business aircraft will include a Bombardier Challenger 850, Global 6000, Cessna Citation Sovereign, Dassault Falcon 2000LX , and Falcon 7X, Embraer Legacy 500 and 650, Lineage 1000, Phenom 100 and 300, Gulfstream G150, G450 and G550, Hawker Beechcraft Hawker 900 and 4000 and Piaggio Aero P180 Avanti II. The static park will also be showcasing a wide variety of helicopters, including a Bell 407 and 429, Boeing AH-6I and AH-64D Apache , CH-47 Chinook, Eurocopter AS350, EC135 and EC145 and a Sikorsky S-70B and S-92. The S-92 will be Sikorsky’s Legacy of Heroes demonstrator, which has been on a global tour highlighting the types search and rescue and medavac capabilities.
The Asia-Pacific defence scene
Defence companies will also be out in force in Singapore and this years show will have a special signficance after the recent overt annoucement that the US will reorient its focus on Asia-Pacific in this century. Expect companies to highlight Air-Sea Battle type scenarios, anti-access type missions and ISR. With the rise of China and its military capabilities and ambitions in UAVs, aircraft carriers and stealth aircraft, nations in the region will be closely interested in maintaining the balance of power. US allies in the region,will be seeking assurances that the US defence cuts do not leave them vunerable.
In fighters, much of the talk on the sidelines will be discussion of the recent Indian MMRCA result, which saw Eurofighter knocked out and Rafale go forward, along with Japan’s selection of the F-35. But manufacturers will be keen to highlight new opportunities, including Malaysia and South Korea. In South Korea this sees the Eurofighter Typhoon face off against the Lockheed Martin F-35 and Boeing’s semi-stealthy F-15SE (Silent Eagle) for Seoul’s FX-III requirement. A selection could be made later this year for around 40-60 aircraft to replace F-4 Phantoms. Meanwhile in Malaysia a smaller procurement of around ten aircraft sees the Saab Gripen, Boeing Super Hornet and Eurofighter jostle for position.
Lockheed Martin, meanwhile, will be keen to keep Singapore (who’s armed forces are one of those that set the standard in the region) in the F-35 programme as a Security Co-operation Participant, amid Australian moves to delay procurement and slowed production in the US.
Another company expected to be involved in some damage limitation is Northrop Grumman, which will be on the offensive after the USAF decision to mothball Block 30 Global Hawk UAVs due to high operating costs. Previously a much desired capability in the region, with reported interest from Australia, Japan and South Korea, Seoul has already backed away from a purchase last year. Northrop will be keen to remind potential customers that the US Navy still will field the Global Hawk as Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS), along with Germany as the Euro Hawk, and now NATO AGS. Its long range, they would argue make it ideal for the Pacific.
Attention too will also be on upgrades for existing aircraft - especially in exportable AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radars for F-16 operators such as South Korea, Taiwan and potentially Singapore too. This will see Northrop Grumman’s Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR) pitted against Raytheon‘s Advanced Combat Radar (ACA).
On the static display military fixed wing platforms on show will include a C-27J, C-130J and C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft, a T346A trainer, a KC-135 Stratotanker , a P-3 Orion, an E-3B Sentry, a MiG-29N, two F-15s and two F16s. Airbus Military meanwhile are reported to be bringing its A330 MRTT tanker, which has so far racked up orders from the RAAF, RAF (as Voyager) Saudi Arabia, and UAE.
UAVs will have their own dedicated area at the show in the Unmanned Systems Showcase which will include UAS and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) platforms for military, civil and commercial applications. ON show will be Heron 1 and Hermes 450 UAV, as well as the debut of Elbit’s Hermes 900 UAV, last seen at Singapore in mock-up form.
Two other dedicated areas will include the Land Defence Pavilion, and the Green Pavilion (where IATA will be presenting a number of ‘deminars’ on green trends and technologies, including alternative fuels). Also present at the show will be numerous maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) providers. Backed by strong fleet growth, Asia’s MRO sector remains strong with spending expected to exceed $13bn by 201 led by demand from China and India. MRO companies exhibiting include Safran, ST Aerospace , Goodrich, GMF Aeroasia, Lufthansa Technik, SR Technic , Dallas Airmotive and Abu Dhabi Aircraft Technology.
The day before the show will also see the official opening of the Rolls-Royce’s Seletar campus in Singapore featuring a Trent engine assembly and test facility, fan blade assembly and training. With the company now looking to the future with composite engine fan blades and casings Rolls’ new facility will help it meet the massive demand for Trent engines as production rates ramp-up.
As well as COMAC, other Chinese companies exhibiting at the show will include China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corporation (CATIC), AMECO Beijing and, for the first time, Chinese UAV company Beijing Youtaishuncheng Development Co. The air show will also see the return of the popular China Business Forum which will focus on procurement trends and strategies, the development of China’s aviation industry and progress of the C919 regional aircraft. There will also be regional business forums looking at Southeast Asia and India.
In the week of this year’s Singapore show will also see no fewer than three defence and aerospace conferences – the Asia-Pacific Security Conference (APSEC) which will look at the changing patterns of defence in the region, the Singapore Aerospace Technology & Engineering Conference (SATEC) and the Aviation Leadership Summit (SAALS). As well as the aircraft listed above, other aircraft on show will include a Beriev BE-200 amphibian, a Dornier 228NG twin-engine turboprop and a Viking Air Twin Otter 400 seaplane.
There will be a daily flying display each afternoon featuring aerobatics from the Republic of Singapore Air Force’s F16Cs and F15SGs, the Royal Australian Air Force’s Roulettes and RMAF Malaysia ‘Smokey Bandits’ display teams plus the RMAF MiG-29, USAF C-17, Rebel 300 single propeller aircraft and the Twin Otter 400 seaplane. A USAF B-52 is also scheduled to perform a fly-past.
To follow all the news at Singapore don’t forget to bookmark media.aerosociety.com. For those on Twitter the hashtag is #SGA2012 and the Editor Tim Robinson will be tweeting live from the show on @RAeSTimR