Mitsubishi Aircraft executives here at the Singapore Airshow yesterday insisted that the four-times-delayed MRJ program has found its stride, notwithstanding recent concerns expressed by its largest customer, SkyWest of the U.S. During a program update at the Singapore Airshow, Mitsubishi Aircraft (Booth V87) director and head of sales Yugo Fukuhara reported that airframe manufacturer Mitsubishi Heavy Industries will join the wings to the now mostly assembled first fuselage in April, followed by the tail “in a few months.”
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Russia’s Irkut Corp. is well known in the Asia Pacific region because of the mighty vectored-thrust Sukhoi Su-30 series multirole fighters in service with Indian and Malaysian air forces, numbering about 200 aircraft. The maker also supplied Su-27UB operational trainers to China; and a number of Asian nations still operate swing-wing MiG-23U trainers and MiG-27 strike aircraft built at the corporation’s manufacturing site in Irkutsk city, western Siberia.
As Indonesia’s national carrier Garuda initiates efforts to enhance service through increased frequencies and destinations, in anticipation of its move to join the SkyTeam global alliance in March and the ASEAN Open Skies in 2015, it is looking at adding around 200 to 250 aircraft to its fleet between 2015 and 2025.
The carrier, which is to soon finalize its plans for a mix of narrow- and widebody aircraft, is expected to seek board approval this year to increase its fleet to 350 to 400 from its present 133 by 2025, CEO Emirsyah Satar told Reuters in Hong Kong.
India’s newest domestic startup, full-service Delhi-based Tata SIA Airlines, could have an advantage over newcomer budget-carrier AirAsia India as the latter is forced to wait for its air operators permit (AOP), which has been delayed by the decision of the Indian Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to issue a public notice requesting comments. This could put on hiatus AirAsia’s plans of launching before summer.
Low-cost carriers (LCCs) have succeeded in Southeast Asia more than in perhaps any other part of the world. Whereas LCCs carry around 26 percent of global traffic, in countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines that figure has exceeded 50 percent. With China’s skies being opened to LCCs the expansion in the Asia Pacific region is set to carry on.
The vibrant aerospace sector here in Singapore is perhaps best illustrated by the activities of Singapore Technologies Aerospace (ST Aerospace, Booth G01/L01). Last week, the company celebrated a $20 million revamp and expansion of its original home at Seletar with an official opening.
For Brazil’s Embraer, a lot has changed in the 13 years since it first laid brick and mortar in Asia. The world’s major airframe makers now consider the Asia Pacific region the biggest market for airliners in the world, and Embraer’s establishment first of an office in Beijing and later a joint-venture to build ERJ 145 regional jets in Harbin has proved prescient.
For Franco-Italian regional turboprop manufacturer ATR (Booth E01), the Asia Pacific region now takes top spot in its geographic sales rankings, but orders from China still seem to be eluding the company. Last year ATR saw orders and deliveries grow again, reaching record levels and steady profitability, but it has yet to convince shareholders Airbus Group and Finmeccanica to launch a new larger turboprop in the 90-seat category.
Crane Aerospace and Electronics has announced that its SmartStem wireless tire pressure system has been certified for use with Boeing 737NG aircraft. It is already approved for use with the Boeing 747-400, 777 and 787, and with numerous business jet types. The system comprises high-accuracy sensors that replace standard wheel fill stems, and a handheld reader that takes quick and accurate tire pressure readouts without gas loss. The ease and speed of use of the system promotes daily checks, with improved safety as a result, and an increase in tire life.
Asia Pacific governments have long considered development of their aerospace industries a prime opportunity for technology renewal and overall economic growth. Several big OEMs have answered the call to help, allowing countries such as Singapore and Malaysia to develop into some of the world’s most active aerospace manufacturing, services and technology centers. Others, such as the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia, show particular promise due to their rapidly expanding economies and young, energetic populations hungry for jobs.