After a 1 year break, the 2016 Singapore Airshow is on this week from 16th Feb and lasting till the weekend on the to 21th Feb, with the last 2 days being public opening days. The first 4 days are trade days. The Airshow held at Changi Exhibition center just off Changi coastal road will once again bring together the global aerospace community and key commercial, government and military delegations at Asia’s largest aerospace and defence event.
Entry to the venue was a breeze and you are recommended to take the event shuttle bus there as you can beat the car and taxi queues entering the venue. Security was fast and easy too and I was in the convention hall 10 mins after arriving at the venue.
The show comprise of a large indoor space where all the exhibitors reside, and outdoor display area and Aerial display viewing area+ chalets. The Airshow this year see the likes of the usual aviation big boys, such as Boeing, Airbus, United Technologies as well as engine providers such as Rolls, GE, Pratt and Whitney. Local boy, ST Engineering is out with full force with their “Smart” concepts, going in line to provide for Singapore as a “Smart Nation”. The Israeli and Russian section are impressive as always.
Aerial displays will see the return of the Korean black eagles, as well as the RSAF, only that this time, in place of our black nights, we have an F15 and Apache helicopter performance combination. You get the US Airforce doing Aerobatic maneuver on an F16 and for the first time, you also get a spectacular performance of the Sukhoi Su-30 brought to you by the MKM Royal Malaysian Air Force, showing various Immelmann turn as well as a seemingly cool Hammerhead (Stall Turn) maneuver, showcasing the maneuverability and agility of the Aircraft. Dassault was also out at force with a breathtaking performance of the Rafale Multirole Combat Fighter, with awesome close flypass as well as aerial loops.
Half of the show resides out at the outdoor displays, which can also easily take up more than half your time at the show. The highlight for this year’s displays will be the Airbus A350 wide body aircraft. Airbus has a factory aircraft for demo and flights. Qatar has also brought in an A380 and 787 for the open air displays. RSAF has a small spot showcasing their F15, F16, UAV and helicopters (Chinook, Apaches, Seahawk), and so is the Malaysian air force with their transport aircraft. The US Airforce has a spectacular display with their KC- series transport planes, an Osprey, C-17, and the highly sort after F-22 fighters (two of them).
The remainder of the displays are filled by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and Bombardier with their regional jet displays. You can board all the aircraft in the RSAF displays, subjected to queues, while you can only board selected USAF and RAAF aircraft. In terms of selling points and things to see for this year’s show, I say the show is definitely much smaller than the last airshow, partly because RSAF had their 45th anniversary celebrations the last Airshow which added more to the outdoor displays.
The best time to visit the show is of course during the 4 trade days, where all the exhibitors and displays will be present. Usually, half of the planes outdoors and the exhibitors indoors will start vacating their spots/fly back after the last trade day, (presumably given the opportunity cost of grounding commercial planes at the show). This leaves only few exhibits left for the public days both indoors and outdoors, including the Airforce display (RSAF, USAF and RAAF) which will stay till the end of the show. With public tickets costing $22 a pop, the main allure will have to be the aerial displays which only runs once a day this time round.
If aircraft are your cup of tea, do make it a point to catch the event even on the public days. It will definitely be a good day out close with aviation!