Lead Story: Singapore Air Show Review

The Asia-Pacific region, and Indonesia in particular, proved just how important it is to the aviation industry in Singapore last week. Lion Air was the star of the show, finalising a huge order from Boeing, ordering business jets for its new high-end venture, and also becoming the largest ATR operator in the world. Much of the action, meanwhile, was across the island within the Seletar Aerospace Park, which witnessed a host of openings and ground breakings - with Rolls-Royce opening its new campus.

23rd Feb 2012


The Singapore Air Show offered further proof of the shift in the aviation balance of power towards Asia, with Indonesia at the centre of many of the key deals.


And the country's leading low-cost carrier Lion Air was the star of two key orders, at different end of the scale. The carrier signed a US$22.4 billion deal with Boeing for 201 re-engined 737 MAX 9s and 29 737-900ERs.


The deal, which was in effect firming up previous commitments, will see the Indonesian carrier become the Asian launch customer for the 737 MAX and the global launch customer for the 737 MAX 9.

Lion Air also tied up orders for its business aviation offshoot, signing two Hawker 900XPs, with options for two more that the carrier seemed keen to pursue if the new venture proves successful. 

  
Airbus, meanwhile, announced that ALAFCO had signed a deal for 35 A320neos, although again this was not completely new. The Kuwait-based lessor is effectively exercising 30 options announced at the Dubai Air Show last year, when it signed a deal for 50 A320neos and 30 options. The carrier has added five aircraft as well as taking up all its options for the fast-selling aircraft.


ALAFCO will receive the aircraft over four years starting in 2017 and is also interested in the 737 MAX. The lessor's chairman Ahmad Alzabin said the lessor could well purchase a "reasonable number" of MAXs, possibly a similar number to its prospective A320neo fleet. "There is a demand for fuel-efficient, eco-friendly aircraft," he said.


Comac joined the action - lessor BOC Aviation signed a 'launch customer agreement' for 20 C919s. "With a global reach and long-term commitment to the industry, BOC Aviation is confident that we can help COMAC to open markets for the C919 first in China and then globally, said the lessor's managing director, Robert Martin.

In the regional sector, Bombardier fended off competition from Embraer to win a much-coveted regional jet order, with the Indonesian carrier agreeing to buy 18 CRJ1000s. Garuda will be the launch customer for the CRJ1000 in the Asia-Pacific region.


The deal is valued is valued at US$297 million and the carrier has also taken out 18 options. Of the 18 firm orders, six will be purchased directly by GA and 12 will be acquired by the Scandinavian lessor Nordic Aviation Capital, which has an office in Singapore.
 

Embraer, meanwhile, signed an agreement for three Lineage 1000 ultra-large executive jets with China’s Minsheng Financial Leasing - a fast growing power in the business jet world.


ATR continued its to make inroads in a region that has proved lucrative for the turboprop manufacturer - and again Lion Air was involved. The latter's subsidiary Wings Air signed a deal that makes it the largest ATR operator in the world.


Wings Air signed a deal for 27 ATR 72-600 aircraft, which will bring its total fleet to 60 ATR 72-500s/600s once they are delivered by the end of 2015. Wings Air introduced its first ATRs in January 2010 and currently operates a fleet of 16 ATR 72-500s across its domestic network in Indonesia.
 

On the engine side, Pratt & Whitney racked up 171 orders for its of its PurePower geared turbofan airliner engines. Pratt announced a deal with India's Go Airlines for 144 engines for its 72 Airbus A320neo aircraft on order. This followed swiftly on from an order from TransAsia Airways for 27 engines for its A321neo aircraft. TransAsia also ordered V2500 engines from IAE for six current production A321s. Korean Air, meanwhile, selected Pratt & Whitney’s PW4170 engine to power five new Airbus A330 aircraft.
 

Rolls-Royce, meanwhile, also won an A330 order. The engine manufacturer's Trent 700 was chosen to power up to eight A330-300s Cebu Pacific is using to launch low-cost long-haul flights. CFM, of course, will power the Lion Air 737 MAXs with its LEAP-1B.
 

Rather than orders, however, this was a show as much about strategic investments, facility openings and other developments to support the huge growth in the Asia-Pacific airline and business aviation fleets. For once, the former sleepy backwater of Seletar was capturing some of the limelight from Changi.
 

The big event in Seletar Aerospace Park actually happened on the eve of the show, when Rolls-Royce opened its new campus there, which will include a wide chord fan blade manufacturing facility and will also produce around 250 Trent engines a year when production is ramped up.
 

Seletar is building up its regional/business and general aviation capability with Hawker Pacific and Fokker Services both holding opening ceremonies for new hangar facilities during the show, while on the day before the show, Dallas Airmotive Asia Pacific opened its Regional Turbine Center (RTC) in Seletar, covering Honeywell engines.
 

Visitor numbers over the four trade days from 14-17 February stood at nearly 45,000 from 128 countries/regions, with over 30% coming outside Singapore. The show organisers say the event also played host to the largest ever number of top level delegations, with 266 from over 80 countries.
 

Asian Aviation at a glance