Andrew Mollett

Show officials may be expecting a lower attendance this year, but in every other respect Asian Aerospace '98 is opening on a buoyant note, with some of the biggest and brightest developments in the industry on display here in Singapore.

The host nation sent a strong signal of support for the show when it was officially inaugurated last night by Dr Tony Tan, Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence.

Despite the current economic crisis gripping South East Asia, some 33 countries and 950 companies are represented at the show, and more official delegations than ever before are expected.

"The messages of support from both exhibitors and visitors throughout the region and the world are a clear sign that the long-term confidence in the region is intact," says Lim Chin Beng, chairman of Asian Aerospace, which organises the show that shares the company's name.

Organisers are confident that Asian Aerospace, the world's third largest airshow after Paris and Farnbrough events, will be a big success despite an anticipated 10% drop in visitors. Some 25,000 people are expected over the show's seven days.


Exhibitors running the gamut of the aviation industry have taken 22,000m ² indoors in the four exhibition halls and a further 50,000m ² of outdoor space. Among features at this year's show are a stand-alone pavilion set up outside the main exhibition hall by Lockheed Martin, a giant 6m-by-6m viewing screen set up by British Aerospace, and a full-size mockup cross-section of the Airbus A3XX.

Also new is the show's own website (

In all, 54 aircraft will be on show or taking part in the daily flying display, although the US's standoff with Iraq has forced it to cancel plans to display the Boeing B-1 strategic bomber and F-117 Stealth fighter.

Russia has also withdrawn its Sukhoi SU-30 and SU-37, citing high shipping costs and lack of potential customers in the region.

Nevertheless, an impressive flying display is lined up.


The record number of VIP delegations - 83 in all, compared with 60 in 1996 - includes the first-ever from the Ukraine.

"From a short-term perspective, we have all been adversely affected to some degree by recent events in the Asia-Pacific region," says Mike Rusbridge, chairman of Reed Exhibition Companies, which manages the show.

"Fortunately, our organisation and most of the aerospace community takes the long-term outlook- we remain confident that the region will ultimately live up to its much-heralded role as a potential industry powerhouse for growth into the next century."

His words are echoed by Philip Yeo, chairman of Singapore's Economic Development Board: "While intra-regional traffic and aircraft orders may experience slower growth over the next two to three years, long-term prospects remain positive for the regional aerospace industry."

'The message of support from both exhibitors and visitors throughout the region and the world are a clear sign that the long-term confidence in the region is intact.'Lim Chin Beng

Source: Flight Daily News