Singapore Air Show

Singapore Airshow Aims To Shape the Future

 - February 5, 2018, 7:00 AM
All eight Korean Aerospace Industry T-50 military trainers comprising the Republic of Korea Air Force’s Black Eagles flight display team are shown in formation. (Photo: David McIntosh)

Already Asia’s largest aerospace and defense exhibition, the 2018 edition of the Singapore Airshow, opening today, aims to go beyond simply showcasing the sector’s most exciting aircraft, technology, and innovations, and actually move attendees to reimagine and create the aerospace industry of tomorrow.

“We’re using this platform to drive change and shape the future,” said Leck Chet Lam, managing director of show organizer Experia Events, citing the conferences, business forums, and other initiatives that have become vital components of the biennial gathering.

It’s easy to overlook the event’s expanding ambitions amid its sheer size and spectacle. More than 1,000 exhibitors, including the world’s 65 largest aerospace companies, are displaying their wares, and over 50 military, civil and business aircraft are on static display. The air will thunder each day with aerial displays by the world’s preeminent military pilots and aerobatic teams, while some 50,000 trade attendees from about 150 nations are expected to participate. Billions of dollars in aircraft transactions are also anticipated—the 2016 show logged 11 deals totaling S$17.9 billion (USD$13.55 billion) and more than 40 additional major orders whose values were undisclosed. But whether focused on today or tomorrow, here are a few highlights attendees will want to know about:

In the Exhibition Hall – More than a venue for cutting-edge products and services, exhibitor displays are intended to “connect participants to key opportunities in technology innovation,” said Leck. The 1,062 exhibiting companies include a host of first time exhibitors, such as Honda Aircraft Company, Turkish Aerospace Industries and Chengdu Holy Aviation, along with perennial industry leaders. Airbus will demonstrate its Project Skyways autonomous delivery drone prototype, Singapore’s own ST Engineering is showcasing innovative smart technologies, while ISS Reshetnev has Russia’s latest technological advances in satellites on display.  

On Static Display – From the new Bell 505 Jet Ranger X helicopter to the massive Boeing C-17 Globemaster III, a wide spectrum of military, civil and business aircraft are open for inspection, including the F35B Lightning II fighter, the Sukhoi Superjet airliner, and 10 aircraft from the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF). The show inaugurates the year-long RSAF 50th anniversary celebration, with President Halimah Yacob set to unveil tomorrow an RSAF F-15 fighter painted in anniversary livery.

Several aircraft models are in Singapore for the first time, among them the F-35B from the U.S. Marine Corps and the RQ-4B Global Hawk unmanned aircraft system from the U.S. Air Force, while it is also the first time a Royal Thai Air Force Saab Gripen has participated at the show. Embraer’s E-190 E2 prototype airliner and the freshly certified Airbus A350-1000 long-range passenger jet are also making their regional debuts, while in the business jet category the HondaJet, Textron’s Citation Longitude, and Gulfstream’s G500 and G600 are all first-timers.

The Daily Air Show – Leading off with the RSAF, the show’s aerial demonstrations underscore regional piloting prowess with performances by the Royal Thai Air Force, Korea’s Black Eagles aerobatic team in their T-50 jets, Indonesia’ Jupiter Aerobatic Team, and Malaysia’s Sukhoi SU-30 MKM among the international roster of participants.

Conferences and Forums – This year’s Singapore Airshow Aviation Leadership Summit focuses on “Reimagining Aviation’s Future,” while the A*STAR Aerospace Technology Leadership Forum and the Singapore Aerospace Technology and Engineering Conference, two co-located events, explore the impact of technology and innovation on the aerospace sector. Additionally, over a dozen business forums cover topics including cyber security and digital transformations, while What’s Next @ Singapore Airshow, a new program, presents nearly 70 start-ups from countries including China, India, Israel, Japan and Malaysia. And with the focus on the future, Education Day (actually running over two days–tomorrow and Thursday) anchors the show’s initiatives to foster the next generation’s interest in aerospace.

“The global aviation industry is at an inflection point,” said Leck, and here in Singapore attendees can view its latest advances and take a hand in directing it forward.