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Business aviation and aerospace players are converging on Asia-Pacific this month for an unprecedented couple of weeks networking - first in Hong Kong- then in Singapore. On 14th February the Asian Business Aviation Association holds its one day ABACE convention at the Hong Kong Business Aviation Center (www.abace.aero); and a week later- from 19th-24th February- the biennial Singapore Air Show takes place- for ...

Mike Vines   |   1st February 2008
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Asia/Pacific Round-Up

Latest developments ahead of two key events in the region

Business aviation and aerospace players are converging on Asia-Pacific this month for an unprecedented couple of weeks networking - first in Hong Kong- then in Singapore. On 14th February the Asian Business Aviation Association holds its one day ABACE convention at the Hong Kong Business Aviation Center (www.abace.aero); and a week later- from 19th-24th February- the biennial Singapore Air Show takes place- for the first time- from its new purpose built venue at Changi North Airport site (www.singaporeairshow.com.sg).

The fledgling one day ABACE event- will have 12 aircraft on static display and about 23 indoor exhibitors already booked according NBAA’s Dan Hubbard- including Bombardier- Cessna- Dassault- and Gulfstream. The event is a must for all movers and shakers involved in business aviation- and an unprecedented chance to lobby and question senior aviation regulators from the region.

The 2009 ABACE and each succeeding event will be a two day show Hubbard told World Aircraft Sales Magazine. He also confirmed- “All of the static exhibitors are going to Singapore after the ABACE Forum. We polled exhibitors to find out if and when they wanted the Forum this year- based on their plans to exhibit at the Singapore show. We thought we’d make it easier- and more cost effective for our exhibitors to participate in both shows- and they’ve been very responsive to that.” Topics due to be discussed include- ‘The Olympics and China’s Regulatory Environment’- where hopefully more detailed information will be released for business aircraft operators and owners planning to visit this year’s Beijing Olympics. In an afternoon session ‘An Operators Perspective of Business Aviation in China’- will be held.

Afterwards the OEMs will be flying their demonstrators south to Singapore in readiness to participate in the City State’s re-branded Singapore Air Show- billed as ‘Asia’s largest-ever aerospace trade event’.

More than 500 exhibiting companies- representing some 800 subsidiaries- principals- and agents from 34 countries- have booked exhibition space. These include global leaders in the commercial- military- business aviation- and space sectors. There will be plenty here to interest the business aviation fraternity as all the top OEMs are due to attend.

The new show-ground has its own runway- a purpose-built S$60 million 40-000 square-meter fully air-conditioned exhibition hall- and a 90-000 square meter static aircraft display area. The whole 30 hectare site is built on reclaimed land alongside Singapore’s Changi International Airport- and access will be a lot easier say the organizers - a new six-lane road was recently completed.

The water-side site also includes more than 100 chalets- all of which feature roof gardens providing exhibitors with a 360-degree view of the show site and aerial displays.

Seletar Aero+sPace
Aerospace activity in Singapore reportedly grew at a rate of 20% last year. It contributed S$6.3 billion in output and employs over 17-000 people. Around 90% was from the MRO sector with the remainder from manufacturing.

The Singapore Government is committed to further growing and strengthening the industry and part of its key master plan initiative is the development of Seletar airfield into the 300 hectare Seletar Aerospace Park (now branded as Seletar Aero+sPace) as an aerospace center of excellence. According to Mrs. Lim Hwee Hua- Singapore’s Minister of State for Transport & Finance- “The response from the industry has been very positive and much of the Phase One land of 50 hectares has already been reserved by companies”.

Eight of those hectares (just under 20 acres) has been booked by the biggest company announced so far- Rolls-Royce- which plans to build its ‘Factory for the future’- and assemble its huge Trent 1000 civil aircraft engines here as well as in Derby. The company also holds a land option to treble in size here. It will be the first plant in Asia to produce engines for large passenger aircraft.

The engines have been chosen to power the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the Airbus A350XWB- both of which have been ordered as VVIP aircraft. Rolls-Royce says that the plant will be fully operational by 2009- will employ up to 330 people depending on customer demand- and will receive support from the Singapore Economic Development Board.

Meanwhile Rolls-Royce also announced that its RB282 engine- which is to power Dassault’s new mid-size corporate jet (announced at the Paris Air Show last June)- will be assembled and tested in a new facility in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The total amount of investment in these two new facilities is around $300 million over the next five years- says the company.

ST (Singapore Technologies) Aerospace Engineering is to add two new MRO hangars for narrow body airliners at Seletar at a cost of around $27 million. Both Jet Aviation and Hawker Aerospace already have FBO and maintenance operations here.

Kuala Lumpur Bizav Hub

Elsewhere- Malaysia’s twenty year old Subang airport- at Kuala Lumpur- is to receive a $91 million injection to transform its Terminal 3 into Asia’s busiest corporate jet hub. Subang SkyPark- a private company- is responsible for the re-development which is due to be completed by 2010.

With the addition of a dedicated ‘five star’ FBO by next month the company hopes it will eventually turn Kuala Lumpur into an internationally recognized general aviation hub rivaling those of Hong Kong and Singapore. The company says that unlike Hong Kong and Singapore- the Subang site has plenty of room for further expansion. Further along the line- hangarage will be available- as well as MRO and other corporate aviation related industries. Plans also call for a boutique hotel to be built within five years.

Swiss based charter operator VistaJet has signed an agreement with SkyPark to become the first to base aircraft here- with a Challenger 604 and 605 to kick-start operations early this year. The company has a fleet of 31 aircraft and ordered three Airbus ACJs at last year’s NBAA convention.

VistaJet which offers private jet charter- aircraft operations and management- aircraft financing and brokerage services- says that ‘Subscribers in Malaysia can charter these aircraft out of SkyPark Subang without having to incur extra fuel costs and service charges from repositioning aircraft from distant countries…’

Hong Kong Prestige
And Airbus’ aircraft in VVIP configuration are catching on as the first memorandum of understanding for a VVIP A350XWB Prestige (Xtra Wide Body) airliner was signed at the Dubai Air Show by C Jet a privately owned company based in Hong Kong. C Jet also has an Airbus Corporate Jetliner (ACJ) on order. The first A350XWB is due to make its maiden flight in 2012.

Indian Phenoms
Meanwhile- Embraer has received its first ever business jet fleet order from India- and is saying that it is the largest single fleet business jet order ever to come out of the sub-continent. The order is for 18 Phenom 100s and two Phenom 300s- valued at $69.4 million- from Invision Projects Pvt Ltd.

The company plans to launch its Invision Air Services- a branded- on-demand- per seat- charter and air taxi operation this month. The company was due to announce more details as World Aircraft Sales Magazine went to press. The main question- is what does it intend to operate until its first Phenoms arrive in over two years time? The answer seems to be on the company website which shows a Cessna CJ1 with the cryptic message ‘more details to follow shortly’. The company plans to offer a carbon offset program for clients as well as an innovative jet card program which will give members benefits ranging from discounts on Invision Air flights to Frequent Flyer points on scheduled airlines.

Indian Fractional
Staying in India- and according to local reports- Club One Air is actively researching the best VLJ aircraft type to suit Indian operations for a fractional ownership program.

The company currently operates an Ad Hoc charter fleet of eight business aircraft including Citation Excels and Citation IIs as well as helicopters. The company’s aim is to rapidly connect the length and breadth of the country with aircraft based at Delhi- Mumbai- Chennal- Bagalore and Kulkata.

Thailand Orders ERJ-135s
Elsewhere- the Thai Government has ordered two Embraer ERJ-135LRs (Long Range) mini airliners to be used as Government transports and Medical Evacuation aircraft. They will be operated by the Thai Air Force and Navy. Embraer’s Legacy 600 corporate jet was developed from this ERJ-135 (37 seat) regional jet.

Project Phoenix
The Project Phoenix team has gained its first letter of intent from Asia-Pacific for its $17.9 million Bombardier CRJ200 conversion to corporate jet status. The interest comes from Ritz Pacific Ltd for Jet Asia of Macau- which is one of the largest business jet operators in the region.

Jet Asia is the business aviation arm of Macau’s casino company- Sociedade de Jogos de Macau which also has on order two Hawker 900XPs and four Hawker 750s (most to be delivered this year) as well as a Challenger 605 and a Global 5000. Some of these new aircraft are to replace older fleet aircraft and all will be Macau registered.

Cessna to build
SkyCatchers in China

Finally- Cessna- in partnership with China’s Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC)- is to be the sole source supplier of the new Model 162 SkyCatcher light sport aircraft. Cessna will design the aircraft and handle American Society for Testing & Materials (ASTM) compliance work- as well as provide on-site personnel to oversee manufacturing- quality assurance- and technical design- while SAC will be responsible for SkyCatcher assembly.

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