Focus on future as Asia's top aviation event soars

Asia's largest air show kicks off tomorrow with a focus on the future.

The Singapore Airshow 2016 will host 65 of the top 100 global aerospace companies, showcasing emerging technologies and providing a platform to tap new opportunities.

Mr Leck Chet Lam, managing director of show organiser Experia Events, said: "Over the next 10 years, the Asia-Pacific fleet size is going to overtake America's and become the largest in the world. The Asia-Pacific is where the action is."

There will be more than 1,000 participating companies from 50 countries. Among them is Roketsan, the show's first exhibitor from Turkey. It will also be the first time Indonesia and the Philippines have their own country pavilions.

Mr Leck said: "We're increasing the reach, increasing the breadth, and increasing the depth of the show."

Three out of the four business forums that will be held during the show are new. One of them, the Emerging Technologies Business Forum, is linked to the new Aerospace Emerging Technologies Zone in the exhibition hall.

Among the highlights of this thematic area is a showcase of the 3D aerospace manufacturing capabilities of Nanyang Polytechnic.

In addition, the Training and Simulation Business Forum will focus on the "soft part" of aviation, such as pilots, air traffic controllers and mechanics, said Mr Leck.

The new France-Singapore Business Forum will train a spotlight on aviation technology, among other things. France is the feature country at the air show this year.

"Our footprint here in Singapore is very significant," said French Ambassador to Singapore Benjamin Dubertret.

There are more than 600 French companies employing close to 50,000 people in Singapore, as well as more than 200 entrepreneurs who have set up shop here to do business in the region, he said.

Another highlight from the French is the Airbus A-350 commercial passenger jet, which boasts next-generation lightweight alloys and composite materials.

A variant of the A-350 is being developed that will allow Singapore Airlines to resume the operation of a direct flight from Singapore to New York by 2018. When it starts, it will be the longest commercial flight in the world.

For the very first time, the show will feature the Singapore Airshow Aero Campus, an initiative that explores higher education and career possibilities in aviation. It will be part of the show's Education Day programmes on Thursday and Friday.

Mr 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."

Singapore's push to develop talent is already making headway. For example, Singapore Polytechnic students recently developed three devices that have been patented by aerospace giant Boeing.

These devices will make it easier for cabin crew in passenger planes to operate catering equipment in aircraft galleys.

The aerial display at the air show, a perennial crowd favourite, is also expected to feature new moves. Spectators can expect to see manoeuvres that push the envelope of what it means to be an aviator.

For example, the Republic of Singapore Air Force will pair an F-15 Eagle fighter jet and an Apache attack helicopter for the first time for a series of manoeuvres.

The Black Eagles, from the Republic of Korea Air Force, return to Singapore with 23 different manoeuvres, including three not seen at the last Singapore air show.

The show will be open to the public on the last two days, on Saturday and Sunday. The aerial display will take place from 10.30am to 11.10am on Saturday, and 2.20pm to 3pm on Sunday.

On the last day, spectators will be treated to an additional item in the aerial display: a fly-past of the legendary B-52 strategic bomber.

This article was first published on February 15, 2016.
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