Still eagerly awaiting signs of lasting recovery from its three-year slump, the world’s aerospace industry will be looking to Singapore’s biennial airshow to deliver more of the sort of upbeat activity levels reported at the Dubai show staged in December. Asian Aerospace 2004 (February 24 to 29) will be viewed as a particularly important indicator of the health of the air-transport industry in the Asia/Pacific region. On top of all the global economic woes endured by carriers elsewhere, airlines in that part of the world have been battered by the fallout from the SARS epidemic and, even now, they must be holding their collective breath as Chinese authorities try to contain fresh outbreaks in their territory.
The continuing threat of international terrorism has fueled increased demand for high-technology defense and security equipment. This demand will be reflected at AA2004 in the shape of a high-profile presence of unmanned aerial vehicles.
Meanwhile, three leading international fighter aircraft–the Boeing F-15T Strike Eagle, Eurofighter Typhoon and Dassault Rafale–will once again be staking their claim for Singapore’s $1 billion fighter-replacement program. Both Boeing and Dassault are set to demonstrate their contenders in Singapore’s daily flying display. At press time, Eurofighter had yet to announce whether or not it will show the Typhoon.
Fresh Start For Boeing?
After enduring a bad year, Boeing has the opportunity to make a more positive start to the new year at the Singapore event. Since the Dubai show, Boeing Commercial Airplanes has received approval from the Chicago-based group’s board of directors to start offering its proposed new 7E7 Dreamliner to airlines. Asia Pacific carriers such as Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airlines are strongly tipped to be among the prospective launch customers for prospective 767 replacement, which is to be offered in a variety of range and payload combinations.
The Asia Pacific region will clearly be important territory in the campaign to build a firm future for the 7E7. However, Boeing executives have pointedly sought to dent any expectations that it could generate early orders for the program during the Singapore show.
The U.S. airframer’s European rival, Airbus, will attempt to keep up the pressure by pushing for further business for its A380 super-large airliner program. Asia Pacific operators Singapore Airlines, Qantas, Malaysian Airlines and Korean Air Lines have been crucial to the aircraft’s success to date.
Asia’s Own Regional Jet
Asian Aerospace 2004 will probably feature a mockup of the ARJ21 Asian Regional Jet from the China Aviation Industry Corp (AVIC). The 70- to 90-seat family of twinjets is to be powered by a pair of 18,500-pound-thrust General Electric CF34-10A turbofans. Scheduled to fly next year, the ARJ will be assembled by AVIC subsidiary Shanghai Airplane Manufacturing Plant.
Also from China’s growing regional air-transport sector will come Xian Aircraft’s MA60 twin turboprop. At press time, the 60-seater was due to appear in the Asian Aerospace flying display.
Offering an alternative to China’s new regional jet, Embraer will be giving its 170 twinjet an Asian Aerospace debut. The Brazilian airframer’s Chinese joint venture, Harbin Embraer Aircraft Industry Co., recently rolled out the first Chinese-built example of the 50-seat ERJ-145. The partnership incorporates AVIC subsidiaries Harbin Aircraft and Hafei Aviation.
Other regional aircraft manufacturers booked to exhibit at Asian Aerospace include French-Italian turboprop maker Avions de Transport Regional and Canada’s Bombardier Aerospace. AvCraft, the U.S. group that acquired the 328JET program from bankrupt Fairchild Dornier, is to display the 37-seat twinjet.
Bizav Seeks Asian Growth
All the world’s leading business aircraft manufacturers will converge on Singapore, ever hopeful of cashing in on long-anticipated corporate aviation growth around the Pacific Rim. NBAA last year declared its intention to sponsor a dedicated business aviation show in the region, and this will likely be achieved in partnership with the Hong Kong-based Asian Business Aviation Association. No venue or dates for the first such event have yet been announced.
Gulfstream Aerospace has committed to displaying at AA2004 both a long-range G550 and a super-midsize G200. These executive transports will be joined at the show’s static display by the Cessna Citation X, Dassault Falcon 900EX and Raytheon Hawker 800XP and Premier 1. From its stable of business jets, Bombardier will bring a Global Express, Challenger 300 (making its Asian debut), Learjet 45 and Learjet 60.
This year’s Asian Aerospace event is also set to feature a good crop of turboprop utility aircraft. These will likely include the Ibis Aerospace Ae270, Raytheon Beech King Air 350 and Pilatus PC-12.
Business aviation service companies and suppliers on the Asian Aerospace exhibitors list include Jet Aviation, Lufthansa Technik, Lantal Technics and Jeppesen.
Helicopters Flock to Singapore
The civil helicopter community should be well represented in Singapore. Eurocopter will be particularly prominent, with plans to show the EC 120B single, along with its EC 135 and EC 155. The European rotorcraft maker has a joint venture with Singapore Technologies Aerospace and China’s CATIC for regional production of the EC 120. Bell Helicopter is set to demonstrate its 427. Other rotorcraft makers due to exhibit in Singapore include MD Helicopters and Russia’s Kazan.
Asian Aerospace will also be graced by a flying demonstration of Hindustan Aeronautics’ long-awaited Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter.