The strong business aviation presence at Malaysia’s LIMA airshow held last month on the island of Langkawi was evidence that the industry’s growth in the Asia-Pacific region extends well beyond China. Malaysian Prime Minister Dato Sri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak himself reportedly arrived on one of these exhibits, an Airbus ACJ320 operated by Comlux that took its place on a static display also featuring a Dassault Falcon 7X, several Gulfstreams, a Bombardier Learjet 60 operated by Malaysia’s Department of Civil Aviation, a Beechcraft King Air 350ER, a pair of Pilatus PC-12s, a Ruag Do-228NG and a DHC-400 Twin Otter.
There was also a mix of helicopters, many of them registered in the region. AgustaWestland, which has already delivered 45 rotorcraft (both civil and military) in Malaysia, showed a full-scale mock-up of its new AW189, alongside an AW139, an AW149 and an AW109. Bell displayed a 429 and a 407GX, and Russia’s Mil exhibited an Mi-17.
During the show, Malaysia’s Weststar Aviation Services signed a memorandum of understanding for two Eurocopter EC225s. The European manufacturer displayed an example of the large twin in the livery of MHS Aviation. Weststar is due to receive its aircraft, which it will use to support oil and gas operations in Malaysia, next year.
Airbus Corporate Jet marketing director David Velupillai told AIN that while the airframer has yet to sell an ACJ in Malaysia itself, three are now based in neighboring Brunei, as well as a pair in India, one in Thailand and at least one in Australia. However, China remains the largest ACJ customer base in the Asia-Pacific region, with the 20-strong fleet there including several Hong Kong-based aircraft operated by China Eastern Airlines’ business aviation arm, BAA Jet Management, and many more on the mainland, including some with local operator Deer Jet.
It was with Chinese customers in mind that Airbus developed the new Phoenix cabin interior concept last year. This features popular color schemes (such as red) and a large, partly retractable, table in the center that is useful for group meals, meetings and card games.