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Wed, Feb 22, 2006

Commercial And Military Manufacturers Make Their Pitches At Asian Aerospace Expo

Asia's Largest Air Show Opened Tuesday

It's a battle of the behemoths -- or, more accurately, the superjumbos -- at Singapore's Asian Aerospace Exhibition. In particular, the two commercial airliner heavyweights -- Boeing and Airbus -- are squaring off over the booming aerospace market in China and India.

Perhaps the biggest battle is over, appropriately enough, the largest aircraft. Boeing is featuring its upcoming 747-8, the latest variant of the evergreen jumbo jet, at the show... while urging customers considering a large airliner to wait until 2010 when the aircraft is ready.

Meanwhile, Airbus is telling those customers "why wait?" and pointing to its own A380. An A380 decked out in Singapore Airlines' livery (the airline is the launch customer for the whalejet) flew in for the event, and so far is the unrivaled star of the show.

The two companies are also competing for market share with smaller aircraft, too, with Airbus celebrating its recent order from Indian Airlines for 43 aircraft, and Boeing responding with an order from India's SpiceJet for 10 737s, with options for 10 more. Boeing's 777 is expected to continue its sales roll over the competing A340, as well.

The Seattle Times-Intelligencer reports Boeing said in a statement it "enters Singapore with terrific momentum across the company." Airbus, which won the sales crown for the fifth straight year in 2005, said it's coming to the Asian show with "a positive outlook after achieving record orders, deliveries and profitability in 2005."

The show isn't all about Airbus and Boeing, however. Manufacturers such as Lockheed Martin, Sweden's SAAB, Russia's Sukhoi and Dassault Aviation of France are also showcasing various combat aircraft at the event -- as Asian nations increase their budgets to shore up their defenses.

Lockheed hopes the Indian Air Force will select its F-16 for a big (as many as 126) fighter jet order. The IAF is also reportedly looking at Boeing's F/A-18, as well as Gripens (right), Mirages, and various Sukhois.

As Aero-News reported Monday, even Brazilian manufacturer Embraer is getting in on the act, spotlighting its Super Tucano turboprop. While primarily marketed as a trainer, the Super Tucano can also be outfitted as a light fighter for developing nations.

In all, more than 930 exhibitors are displaying their wares in Singapore -- which shows how important the Asian market has become on the global aviation scene.

"Asia is becoming a huge market for the aerospace industry," said Ghazemy Mahmud, editor of the Asian Defense Journal. "Countries here are developing swiftly, and their purchases of commercial and military aircraft are speeding up together with their economic growth."

The biennial show -- which ranks third globally behind the alternating shows in Paris and Farnborough -- will relocate to Hong Kong in 2008, a move several manufacturers feel will give them an added "leg-up" in their goal to expand into the burgeoning Chinese market.



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