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Singapore air show opens to public after four years | News, Sports, Jobs

Singapore air show opens to public after four years |  News, Sports, Jobs


The South Korean Air Force Black Eagles aerobatic team performs during the first day of the Singapore Air Show on Tuesday in Singapore. Associated Press

SINGAPORE – The Singapore Air Show – Asia's largest – kicked off on Tuesday with a number of aerial displays, including some of China's COMAC C919 narrow-body aircraft, with aircraft makers such as COMAC and Boeing announcing new orders.

It is the first time Singapore will open the event to the public since 2020, when a scaled-down version was held as the COVID-19 pandemic was just beginning.

The biennial show comes as Asia's aviation sector recovers from difficult years of the pandemic, when many countries in the region closed their borders to most international travel.

Subhas Menon, director general of the Asia Pacific Air Lines Association, said this year's show was “back to full swing” with over 1,000 exhibitors.

“The Singapore Airshow is a good opportunity for exhibitors to show where they're going, in terms of technology like autonomous vehicles and so on,” Menon said in an interview on Tuesday.

He said passenger loads in the region are almost back to pre-COVID levels and that Asia Pacific is expected to account for 50% of the growth in air travel demand this year.

But even as the aviation sector recovers, the industry faces a wider supply chain crisis, with shortages of parts and aircraft and shortages of personnel, from aircrew to pilots.

“Supply chain issues are definitely affecting the on-time delivery of aircraft and spare parts, and that's one of the reasons why capacity growth is lagging behind traffic growth,” Menon said.

“We don't know when this is going to ease as it relates to trade tensions and geopolitical issues going on around the world,” he said.

On Tuesday, China's Tibet Airlines finalized an order for 40 C919 passenger jets and 10 ARJ21 regional jets from the Commercial Aircraft Company of China (COMAC). The two companies signed the agreement on the sidelines of the air show.

COMAC's C919 is a narrow-body aircraft similar to Boeing's Airbus A320neo and 737 Max aircraft. COMAC designed many of the C919's parts, but some of its key components, including its engine, are still sourced from the West.

The orders come as COMAC tries to position itself as a viable option for single-aisle aircraft as companies such as Boeing and Airbus face a backlog of orders.

The company has received over 1,000 orders for its C919, according to Chinese media, although the aircraft is currently certified only in mainland China. Four C919s are currently operational with China Eastern Airlines.

The C919's debut at the show is the first time the aircraft has made a trip outside Chinese territory, although the aircraft did fly to Hong Kong in December in its first foray outside China.

Separately, Boeing and Thai Airways jointly announced on Tuesday that the airline had ordered 45 787 Dreamliners to boost its fleet as it looks to expand its international network.

The flying display – a highlight of the biennial air show – saw the Singapore air force perform an air show with an F-15SG fighter jet and an AH-64D Apache helicopter. COMAC's C919 and Airbus' wide-body A350-1000 also performed flights.

The US Air Force B-52 Stratofortress is expected to fly over on Thursday.

US aircraft manufacturer Boeing will not display any passenger jets at the show. The firm is under scrutiny after a mid-flight explosion of a fuselage panel on one of its 737 Max 9 planes last month.

The event, which runs from February 20 to 25, is expected to attract more than 50,000 visitors, with the final two days open to the general public. More than 1,000 companies from over 50 countries participate.

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