Slowdown overshadows Singapore Airshow

South Korea’s Black Eagles will be a highlight at the Singapore air display. Source: Wikimedia

Asia’s largest airshow opens on Tuesday (February 16) when Singapore hosts 65 of the biggest 100 global aerospace suppliers, showcasing the latest technology.

Worries about the stuttering global economy and tension over islands in the South China Sea overshadow the two-yearly event in the city-state, home to Asean’s most powerful and best-trained air force.

“Over the next 10 years, the Asia-Pacific fleet size is going to overtake America and be the largest in the world,” said Leck Chet Lam, managing director of the Singapore Airshow 2016 organiser Experia Events. “Asia-Pacific is where the action is.”

Among more than 1,000 companies from 50 countries is Roketsan, the show’s first exhibitor from Turkey, and the first Indonesian and Philippine country pavilions.

Leck, describing the event, said: “We’re increasing the reach, increasing the breadth, increasing the depth.”

It includes a new Aerospace Emerging Technologies Zone with 3D aerospace manufacturing capabilities by the institution Nanyang Polytechnic.

Airline traffic continues to grow as East Asian household incomes rise and profits are rising with falling oil prices.

But aerospace shares are falling on the stock exchange and the markets are asking if the aerospace expansion is sustainable beyond an unprecedented eighth year.

A lacklustre airshow in Dubai in November suggests the industry might be losing height.

“All the thoughts that this is no longer a cyclical industry have disappeared. We are due for a down-cycle,” said aerospace consultant Jerrold Lundquist, managing director of The Lundquist Group. “(But) I don’t think there will be any impact in the next 18-24 months. It is when you get beyond 24 months that you might see some softening.”

“Our footprint here in Singapore is very significant,” said French ambassador to Singapore, Benjamin Dubertret, referring to the French economic presence in the country. More than 600 French manufacturer employed almost 50,000 people in the city-state and around 200 French entrepreneurs were based in the tiny republic, Dubertret said.

The French are looking to sell the Airbus A-350 commercial passenger jet which has lightweight alloys and composite materials. The plane will allow Singapore Airlines to reinstate the world’s longest commercial flight direct from Singapore to New York by 2018.

Leck said: “We want to do our part to create this constant stream of skilled personnel to enter the aviation industry so that we can support growth.”

Students from Singapore Polytechnic recently developed three devices that have been patented by Boeing. They will enable cabin crews to operate catering equipment in aircraft galleys more easily.

For the aerial display, Singapore Air Force will pair an F15 Eagle and an Apache attack helicopter for the first time.

Korean Black Eagles will also return with 23 manoeuvres.

The last day will include a fly-past of the giant B52 strategic bomber.