Leck Chet Lam, Managing Director of Experia Events, explains the importance of the biannual Singapore Airshow to Asia’s aerospace industry
Writer: Dani Redd
Over the past few weeks, the world has been shaken to its core by COVID-19.
As the death toll mounts, countries have closed their borders, events have been cancelled and restaurants have closed their doors.
The aviation industry has been one of the worst hit – the Centre for Aviation (CAPA) estimates that without government intervention, most world airlines will be bankrupt by May.
Luckily, the 2020 Singapore Airshow took place between the February 11 and 16, narrowly missing the worldwide lockdown.
“Despite global concerns surrounding COVID-19, we were encouraged by the presence of over 930 participating companies from 45 countries and regions,” comments Leck Chet Lam, Managing Director of Experia Events.
Over 20,000 public visitors and 30,000 trade attendees from more than 110 countries attended the event. Although there were 54,000 trade attendees in 2018, Chet Lam believes that the turnout this year was incredibly high, considering the extenuating circumstances.
“This underscores Singapore Airshow’s importance as a strategic node in the aviation and defence ecosystem; one where businesses build networks and forge strategic partnerships in the aerospace and defence ecosystem,” he says.
Now, more than ever, partnerships in the aerospace industry are important. There’s nowhere better to build them than at Singapore Airshow, Asia’s largest and most influential aerospace and defence exhibition.
“Singapore Airshow is a significant platform for business leaders, government and military chiefs to engage in strategic dialogues, exchange ideas and seek solutions and strategies to advance the interests of the global aerospace and defence industry. It also enables businesses to build networks and forge partnerships in the ecosystem,” Chet Lam explains.
According to Managing Director, one of the key advantages of the Singapore Airshow is its location, for Singapore has long served as a prime gateway to Asia’s markets.
“Singapore’s strategic location, alongside other factors such as its pro-business environment, efficiency, connectivity and safety, contributes to its continued success as an aviation and tourism hub in an increasingly competitive environment,” he continues.
“This places the Singapore Airshow in a favourable position as the leading platform to host important conversations on aviation and defence.”
At this year’s Airshow, one of the key topics under discussion was maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO).
“With global fleet and MRO growth forecasts exceeding expectations and creating a healthy market opportunity for maintenance providers, OEMs, and information technology suppliers, one of the key discussions was about the potential gains and challenges faced in integrating emerging technologies in the MRO industry,” Chet Lam says.
“Another key topic was urban air mobility. At one of our business forums, participants exchanged ideas about transforming the mobility ecosystem with collaborative, complementary solutions, as well as how the industry can work towards a safe and secured journey to realising urban air mobility.”
One of Chet Lam’s personal highlights of the event was the second iteration of What’s Next @ Singapore Airshow, a platform where budding startups – working in areas from AI to cybersecurity and big data – can pitch ideas and network with heavyweight aviation and defence businesses.
“61 startups from 10 countries and regions showcased their innovations and connected with industry leaders for new business opportunities, including sustainability-focussed startups such as AirCarbon, Arrowdynamic Laboratories and Transkinect,” he says.
Other highlights included the Asian debut of some intriguing static displays, such as a cabin mockup of a new business aircraft, the Dassault Falcon 6X, and the Embraer E195-E2, also known as the TechLion. “It is the most environmentally friendly aircraft in its class, with the lowest levels of external noise and emissions,” Chet Lam adds.
The aerospace industry is committed to reducing its carbon footprint by increasingly lowering the emissions of its aircraft – in this regard TechLion’s work is an important step forward.
According to Chet Lam, Experia Events are also committed to principles of environmental sustainability.
“2020 was the first time in history that the Singapore Airshow took place under a fully solar-panelled roof facility,” he reveals. “The total of 15,000 solar panels generates enough renewable energy to power more than 1,750 four-room apartment flats in Singapore for one year.
“We are happy to do our part to reduce carbon footprint and contribute to overall environmental sustainability.”
Despite the COVID-19 crisis, Chet Lam and his company are facing the future optimistically, and are even now beginning to plan Singapore Airshow 2022.
“To date, more than two thirds of our key exhibitors will return to participate in Singapore Airshow 2022, including Airbus, Boeing, Changi Airport Group, Diehl Defence, Elbit, Embraer, Hensoldt, Israel Aerospace Industries, L3 Harris, Lufthansa Technik, Pratt & Whitney, Rafael, and ST Engineering,” he says. “Returning country pavilions will include Australia, Canada, Germany, Malaysia, Switzerland, and the United States of America.”
Over the upcoming months, the resolve and finances of many of these companies will be tested. But with the future of aviation facing such uncertainty, working together within the industry has never been more important.
“Looking ahead to 2022, we will work to deepen collaborations and partnerships established during this edition of Airshow, build on the various on-ground discussions, and return with new ideas and concepts to transform Asia’s aerospace and defence industry,” Chet Lam says.
He concludes our interview by stressing the importance of collaborative efforts in enabling Singapore Airshow 2020, and by thanking exhibitors and strategic partners – including Changi Airport Group, International Air Transport Association and many more – for their unwavering support.
We are in no doubt that these businesses, ministries and organisations are all looking forward to Singapore Airshow 2022, when they will be able to bounce back with a renewed vigour, in a revitalised industry.