Asia’s largest aerospace and defence event is back again in Singapore after a one year break. You can remember the last show being the 2018 show also held in the first quarter of the year. This year, the event saw a reduction of attendees given the Covid-19 outbreak. Let’s check out this year’s installment of the Singapore Airshow 2020.
The Airshow aims to be a networking event, bringing together several of aviation’s finest converges, delegates and tech experts. The show runs from 12-16 Feb, at the Changi Exhibition Centre (9 Aviation Park Road). The first 4 days being Trade Days and the weekend being a Public Days. The event grounds are opened from 9:30am- 5:00pm.
A victim of the Wuhan virus fallout
Moreover, there is quite a fallout in visitor numbers this year with the corona virus being full blown in Singapore, with the DORSCON level being at Orange. The halls and booths are mostly empty on public days.
It is like everyone left right after the last trade day. However, not all is bad. There are some companies like Boeing and Airbus stayed put to entertain visitors. Notably, there is a rather large tourist crowd on the public days, comprising of mostly visitors from the ASEAN region as well as Japanese aviation enthusiasts.
Also, outdoor aerial displays see pockets of empty places in the open during peak show times. Notably, the last air show in 2018 saw 54,151 attendees from both trade and public show days. It might be a record difficult to beat this year, especially with half of the public day tickets available for sale.
Moreover, there are virtually no queues for the airshow shuttle at the Singapore Expo. It is a 30min journey via Changi coast road. The organisers did a good job in preparing for crowds with ample spaces for security, contact tracing, health screening, and queue lines for the shuttle charted SMRT buses from the Expo Hall 7. Additionally, the shuttles is the best and cheapest way in. In comparison, driving in car park labels cost upwards of $50 per car and taxi rides incurs a $12 surcharge.
Outdoor Aircraft aerial displays
Highlights for this year’s Airshow is the People’s Liberation Army Air Force Bayi Aerobatics Team and a showcase of the F22 fighter. Moreover, these are both firsts for the Singapore event. The public days see two aerial show slots, with the trade days having only one per day.
Additionally, Republic of Singapore air force aerial display team have on display a combination flight display of the F15SG with the AH-64D attacked Apache in tandem. Also, you see a combination of aerial manoeuvres between the two choppers and fly-pass with dumping of F15 chaff countermeasure as a closing move.
China’s Bayi Aerobatics Team
The big show group for this year is the Bayi Aerobatics Team performance with their indigenously-built J10s fighter planes. The Chinese J10 fighter showcased their skills and fighter tech with aerial loops and multiple plane formations with impressive trailing plumes.
Furthermore, it demonstrates the capabilities of the J-10 aircraft through solo and team performances. Moves comprises with various complex manoeuvres and a spectacular display of aerobatics, ending with a Starburst move.
Moreover, the J-10 fighter planes are painted predominantly sapphire blue, with red and white markings. The colours symbolize a sharp sword in the sky. Also, the Chinese aerobatic team was founded in January 1962. The pilots had also previously operated J-5, J-6, J-7s fighters before the current J-10 multi-role aircraft.
F22 Air superiority fighter showcase
In addition to group displays are solo performances. We saw this with two United States aircraft. The F22 and the and United States Marine Corps F-35B joint strike fighter.
The F22 flight display was notably one of the best displays on show too. United States Pacific Air Forces the F-22 Raptor is the Air Force’s best air-superiority 5th generation fighter aircraft. The craft combines a mix of stealth, super-cruise, manoeuvrability, and integrated avionics. A move bound to wow the crowds is a stall move, where the jet is able to maintain a vertical position in the air moving backwards.
F35B solo performances
The F-35B joint strike fighter showcase’s it abilities as a strike fighter, as well as doing a stationary hover in the air in front of the crowds. Notably, the Singapore air force, RSAF has recently announced to procurement of 5 of such Short take-off and landing (STOL) variants of the F-35s.
Both the US F-22 and F-35 display sure does showcase an exponential leap in war fighting capabilities. It demonstrated the Raptor’s and F35B performance as both air-to-air and air-to-ground strike machine. It allows full realization of operational concepts vital to the 21st century Air Force witnessed right here at the Singapore Airshow 2020.
Each aerial display has a complementing voice over by each of the aerobatic team show representative. The solo displays on the public day saw in addition too, a fly-by of a United States Air Force B-52 Stratofortress. Furthermore, the crowds are noticeably more toned down. This is a delight to those who dislike large crowds.
Notably, this year’s airshow would had featured a spectacular back to back aerial group performance if it weren’t for the South Korea’s Black Eagles to pull out at short notice given the Covid-19 outbreak. You may remember the Black Eagles as the aerobatic team which performed at the last two air shows. However, their crashed out on their first performance on the last 2018 air show.
Singapore Airshow 2020 Static displays
Singapore is one of the few global airshows where you can see various super powers coming together in one venue. This includes, US, Russian and Chinese planes. The outdoor displays see in addition, to the tradeshow indoor booths, and outdoor static display area. It is accessible via the two west-most exits from the exhibition halls.
On one end, we have US planes, such as the USAF AH-1Z, the massive USAF C-17 Globemaster III, USAF E2-D and Osprey. It is not the first time the Osprey had came to the airshow and is the next aircraft with vertical adn short take off landing capabilities besides the new F35B joint strike fighter. Also, you can only see the F35B on the aerial (and not static) displays this year.
Russian planes such as the UAC SU-30MKM is on display too by the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF). Their staff were by their planes in the static display areas around selling various merchandise and patches at their Airbus A400 transporter display. Also, you can catch the Russian Su-30 jet. They performed in a solo aerobatic display at the last Airshow. You can read more on their 2018 performance here.
RSAF static displays
Furthermore, the RSAF have on display their new A330 multi-role air-refuelling tanker, AH-64D and S-70B helicopters as well as their Hermes 450 and Heron 1 unmanned aerial vehicles. The displays are largely all outdoor static areas with no indoor exhibition area this year’s Singapore Airshow.
Notably, to minimize the spread of the Corona virus, you are not allowed to climb into the cockpit of the RSAF planes this year for photos.
A manageable Airshow crowd
Coming from previous airshows, you notice the fall in number on both the trade and public days. The repercussions seeing up to 70 exhibitors and a tenth of the total exhibitors, such as Gulf Stream and Bombardier pulling out entirely from the Singapore Airshow 2020.
Humorously, it is like the exhibitors had a mass evacuation right after the last day of the trade show. The displays on some booths were left in place for public day visitors to enjoy, but don’t expect anything more. Also, several exhibitors were seen leaving their leftover trade materials onto the event brochure stands for the horde of public crowds.
Moreover, a walk about on the public days yielded almost 80% of all exhibition booths already vacated right on the last trade day. Humorously, with this fallout, it is not uncommon to see public members spilling out from the walkways into the empty booth areas themselves. Many were seen making themselves at home at the various empty corporate booths and sofas.
Local companies showcase
But not all is closed. There are still several highlights in the indoor areas of the Singapore Airshow 2020 exhibition space. Here, we see largely local companies as ST engineering, CASS and Changi group being the few ones still manning their indoor booths.
Furthermore, ST Engineering were around to showcase their entire assortment of engineering offerings from military, commercial aviation to cyber and software engineering areas. Moreover, highlights will have to be their new wheelchair accessible toilets and short haul flight seats for the aviation sector.
Also taking center stage for ST Engineering is their military sector, with the new SAF infantry fighting vehicle, the hunter on display too. There were a couple of remote weapon systems and a Brono tracked vehicle showcased too.
Moreover, both Changi and ST engineering has a couple of interactive games on display too, like a trampoline game for instance. Also, the official Airshow merchandise store is also a favourite too, particularly with the tourist crowd. The RSAF has a recruitment booth similarly decked with simulators.
The Changi booth has a couple of informatics displays as well as a jumping game allowing you to “catch” butterflies in a virtual Changi Jewel establishment.
Food and Entertainment
Given this, still, not all is bad. This year saw a good increase in dining options available for visitors. Orchard hotel, Brewerkz and Tunglok has food stores up with ample seating given the smaller crowd.
Though food prices are not really affordable. Not stopping the fun, at regular times of the day, we see Airshow Mascots Leo and Leonette making their rounds on the convention floor grounds too.
Moreover, the US Airforce Music band of the Pacific were out with their performance at the Marquee tent. It sure brought spirits up, and building partnerships through music.
All in all, the Singapore Airshow 2020 was enjoyable given the inclusion of a good selection of aerial displays, and thankfully the lack of crowds. Maybe the 2022 installment could learn a thing of two from the show this year.