The Singapore International Airshow, or SIA, has just come to a close. SIA is held every other year and is the main airshow in Asia, similar to the Paris and Farnborough airshows. It consists of a large static display area where you will see a wide variety of aircraft, both military and civilian, on display; a flight display component where the major aerospace companies put their various civilian and military aircraft through their paces; and finally, there is a trade exhibition where a variety of companies will have a trade show booth.
2018 was the eighth time that MicroPilot has exhibited at SIA. I would be hard pressed to identify any major change over the past decade and a half. Maybe the flight displays don’t last quite as long but other than that it’s pretty much the same. The fact that the airshow is unchanged is remarkable given how many means of communication are available today that didn’t exist a decade ago. Trade shows are every bit as relevant today as they were prior to Facebook, Twitter, and all the other social media platforms. In fact, if the cost of booth space is any indication, SIA is becoming more relevant. The cost of a booth has increased by about 50% in the past decade and there is no sign the show organizers aren’t able to fill the convention hall.
Trade shows matter because face to face matters. By far the most effective means of building and maintaining relationships is when you meet someone face to face.
Other than the continued relevance of the SIA, there were a few additional observations. The usual military UAV manufacturers were present: Insitu, Textron, IAI, Elbit Systems, Aeronautics, and Schiebel. The Israeli presence was substantial, probably the third largest national presence after the US and Singapore. I think this speaks to the importance of the Asian market to the Israeli defense industries.
There were a couple dozen smaller commercial manufacturers displaying their wares; over half of these were from China. The Chinese UAV manufacturers tend to show up one year and then you never see them again. The attendance of non-Chinese UAV manufacturers is more consistent from show to show.
The show draws attendees from all over Asia. It does not draw many attendees from China other than the companies displaying their UAVs. All of the major aerospace companies attend and the show is a good place if that is the sort of contact you want to make.