Singapore launched its bi-annual air show on Tuesday, with more than 600 exhibitors. The COVID pandemic, which is still very present in the world and particularly in Asia, forced the city-state to ban the general public from attending. For the moment, this show is a success for Airbus in terms of orders.
A scaled-down show
It was in a scaled-down format that the show opened last Tuesday: only 600 exhibitors were at the show (compared to over 900 in 2020) and without the presence of the general public. Asia is beginning to abandon the strict measures against the pandemic and thus let the regional civil aviation gradually rise in power. No purchases by Chinese companies are to be expected since their representatives have not been able to leave their territory due to their country's excessive requirements to be able to leave their borders.
The Asia-Pacific region normally accounts for 35% of the world's commercial aircraft, but over the last 10 years, only 4% of the world's airliner orders were from the region. Rising tensions in Asia, particularly in the China Sea, have instead tended to increase demand in the military aircraft sector (as evidenced by Indonesia's recent purchase of 42 Rafales).
Presentations on the ground
On the technology side, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems was presenting its Spyder air defense system, capable of destroying aircraft and drones within a radius of 20 to 50 km (depending on the missile). Turkish Aerospace, for its part, presented the model of its future TF-X already presented at Le Bourget 2019.
For now, it is the statements of Proteus Advanced Systems on their new naval missile Blue Spear that stand out. The latter is subsonic, usable in fire and forget or fire and update mode, and can engage both naval and land targets.
As far as aviation is concerned, Embraer is present with its E2 Profit Hunter, while the two giants Airbus and Boeing bring different types of aircrafts: Airbus mainly for the civilian domain, Boeing being more oriented in the military.
Airbus is thus exhibiting an A350-100 (which is to perform demonstrations), an A-350-900 from Singapore Airlines, an A330neo from Cebu Pacific, as well as an A220 from Korean Air. On the military side, the Luftwaffe had projected an A400M and the Singapore Air Force was showing an A330 MRTT as well as an H225M helicopter.
Boeing is conversely showing fewer civilian aircraft (such as the 777X) in favor of the military: an F-15 fighter, a P-8 maritime patrol aircraft, a T-7A trainer, the Loyal Wingman drone. The U.S. Army is also displaying one of the manufacturer's KC-46A tankers, a second P-8 maritime patrol aircraft as well as a C-17 transport aircraft.
On the flight demonstration side, Boeing flew its 777X (which it describes as a cargo version) for the first time in Asia and Airbus flew the A350-1000 for Singapore Airlines.
On the military side, it was possible to see :
- an Indian Air Force HAL Tejas fighter,
- a Singaporean F-16C fighter,
- a Singaporean AH-64D helicopter gunship duo,
- the six KAI K-T1s of the Indonesian Jupiter aerobatic patrol,
- an American F-35B,
- a B-52, which also flew over the site without landing.
Airbus rides the Asian wave, Boeing crosses the desert
As soon as it opened, the show recorded the first orders. Airbus saw its order book grow by 28 A320 Neo aircraft for Jazeera Airways and 20 A220s for the Japanese (U.S.-based) U.S. aircraft leasing company Aviation capital group. Shortly thereafter, Etihad Airways signed a letter of intent for 7 A350Fs (freighter) and Singapore Airlines confirmed its order for 7 A350Fs (freighter), likely shattering Boeing's hopes of selling its 777X to that airline. U.S. carrier Jet Blue also announced an order for 100 A220-300s at the show.
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