Singapore Airshow: Looking towards the future

South Korea's Black Eagles aerobatics team flying in a diamond formation. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
South Korea's Black Eagles performing during a preview show on Feb 14, 2016. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
South Korea's Black Eagles performing during a preview show on Feb 14, 2016. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
An RSAF F-15SG and a AH-64D performing an integrated display during a preview show, on Feb 14, 2016. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
An Airbus A350 XWB taking flight during a preview show, on Feb 14, 2016. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
Technicians preparing an Elbit Hermes 900 UAV for the Singapore Airshow, on Feb 14, 2016. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
Planes on display in preparation for the Singapore Airshow. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

SINGAPORE - Asia's largest airshow kicks off on Tuesday (Feb 16) 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 on new opportunities.

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

"Asia-Pacific is where the action is."

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

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

Of the four business forums that will be held during the show, three are new.

One of them is the Emerging Technologies forum, which is in tandem with the new Aerospace Emerging Technologies Zone in the exhibition hall. One of the highlights in this thematic area is a showcase of the 3D aerospace manufacturing capabilities of local education institution Nanyang Polytechnic.

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

The new France-Singapore Business Forum will take place with France being Feature Country at this year's show.

"Our footprint here in Singapore is very significant," said French ambassador to Singapore, Mr Benjamin Dubertret, referring to the French economic presence in the country. He cited the more than 600 French companies employing close to 50,000 people here, as well as the more than 200 entrepreneurs that have set up shop here to do business in the region.

One of the futuristic highlights on offer from the French is the Airbus A-350 commercial passenger jet boasting next-generation lightweight alloys and composite materials. A variant of the A-350 is being developed that will allow Singapore Airlines to reinstate the world's longest commercial flight direct from Singapore to New York by 2018.

Also being held for the very first time is the Singapore Airshow Aero Campus, an initiative exploring higher education and career possibilities in aviation, which will be part of the show's Education Day programmes on Feb 18 and 19.

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 Airshow is no less forward-looking. Spectators can expect to see manoeuvres that push the envelope of what it means to be an aviator.

For instance, the Republic of Singapore Air Force will pair an F-15 Eagle and an Apache attack helicopter for the first time, juxtaposing two very different flying beasts in a hair-raising aerial ballet.

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

The Airshow will be open to the public on the last two days, Feb 20 and 21. The aerial display will take place from 10.30am to 11.10am on Feb 20, and 2.20pm to 3.00pm on Feb 21.

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, a salute to the towering aviation achievements of the past that have contributed to mankind's mastery of the skies.

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