Asian Aerospace 2011 preview

Added on 04 March 2011 by Tim Robinson

Tim Robinson reports from Asian Aerospace 2011, held in Hong Kong on 8-10 March.

Next week – Aerospace International magazine (and this blog) will be reporting from the Asian Aerospace International Expo and Congress 2011 being held at Asia WorldExpo, Hong Kong. We present a preview of what to expect.

First started in 2007 when the Asian Aerospace brand name broke away from its old Singapore location and was relocated to Hong Kong, this biennial aviation show is still evolving its own identity. Now taking place for the third time, it has so far defied critics who questioned the wisdom of two premier airshows competing side-by-side in Asia-Pacific.

COMAC's C919 airliner is likely to draw lots of interest.

Indeed – the organiser, Reed Exhibitions, has already responded to this, moving it earlier in the year to this March slot, to put clear distance between it and Singapore 2012 – to be held in February.

And while Singapore continues to be a full-spectrum airshow with daily air displays and a sizable military presence (especially from Western defence companies) Asian Aerospace seems to be acquiring its own niche. So far the organisers report that over 11,000 trade delegates are registered and 270 exhibitors signed up. So what will they be there for?

It’s location as an established global air and sea terminal already gives it a natural focus as an air cargo show. In addition, the special trading conditions that has created Hong Kong’s wealth means that the entrepreneurial spirit sweeping China has its roots here – giving business aviation a stage to shine.

The growing demand for pilots in China itself also means that there is a spotlight on flight training as airlines and regulators struggle with the issues of meeting these massive requirements. With lower labour costs too - China is attractive for MRO providers.

All these factors mean that while there may be no fighter afterburners to rattle chalet windows, there are dedicated conferences and symposiums – Asian Business Aviation, Air Freight Asia and Asia Pacific Airline Training Symposium – as well as a new event ‘Aviation Awards Asia’ (aimed at recognising the best of the best in commercial aerospace in the region). And without an air display to gawp at – expect these events to be well attended.

Bizjets will be on the static display.

However, those wanting real aircraft to see will not be too dissappointed. The organisers say so far some 21 aircraft will be in attendance in the static display, at the Hong Kong Business Aviation Centre (HKBAC) including business aircraft from Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier, Cessna, Dassault, Embraer, Hawker Beechcraft, Gulfstream and Pilatus.

But perhaps the biggest thing to look out for will be that since 2007 China’s own aerospace industry has made extremely rapid progress – and will be putting that on show. In 2007 a mockup of the ARJ21 airliner made headlines – now expect COMACs now launched C919 to grab attention.

It is not just civil products either. The first flight of the J-20 stealth fighter earlier this year made China only the third nation to fly a piloted low-observable demonstrator - and caused ripples aroound the world. And while Asian Aerospace is aimed squarely at the civil sector – there may be interesting conversations to be had in the margins over China’s military aerospace capabilities.

Cirrus SR22 on display at Asian Aerospace 2007.

And for the rest of the world – accessing this giant market which will demand airliners, ATC systems, training aircraft and biz-jets over the coming years, will be key. Will it be a case of just selling aircraft on? Partnering in MRO ventures? Or as in Airbus’ case, establishing an A320 final assembly line? Or, will it involve, as in the case of Cirrus, Chinese companies buying western ones?

While the path ahead may be unclear – no-one can afford to ignore this fast-moving market – and Asian Aerospace is developing into a useful shop window for this region.

This year also holds special significance for Hong Kong as it celebrates 100 years of powered flight. This began on 18 March 1911 when Belgian Charles Van den Born flew a Farman biplane from the beach at Sha Tin. Look out for special events in the city marking this anniversary.

Watch out for further reports on Asian Aerospace on aerosocietychannel and follow the Editor @RAeSTimR on Twitter for all the latest news.

from the Royal Aeronautical Society

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