Printing an aeroplane - and other news from the Singapore Air Show

Karishma Vaswani
Asia business correspondent
@BBCKarishmaon Twitter

Image source, Reuters

It's not just about the big birds and the sophisticated fighter jets on display.

The Singapore Airshow is also a chance to check out trends and new technologies in a fast-growing industry. Here are a few that caught my eye when I scoured the tarmac at the airshow this year:

Print your plane:

There are anywhere between 1.5 million to 2.4 million parts in an aeroplane according to John Lee, president of the Philippine's Aerospace Industry Association.

Currently they're painstakingly manufactured piece by piece - but imagine if some of those parts were just 3D printed into one concrete piece? Well that's what some companies, including GE Aviation are trying to do. It adds to the shelf-life of the aircraft parts, and cuts down on costs. But just how comfortable are passengers going to feel knowing their planes have been printed?

Diving into disaster:

Asia is no stranger to natural disasters. You name it, from tsunamis to earthquakes to volcanoes, every couple of months there's some sort of major disaster taking place nearby. Which is where the makers of "Project Zero" see a gap in the market they believe their product can fill. It's a helicopter - but one that's fully electric and not reliant on fuel, so it can get to volatile places like volcanoes or other no oxygen environments. It's built by AgustaWestland, which belongs to Italy's Finmeccanica. There are even ambtions to get it to Mars - but hold your horses, right now it is only able to fly about ten minutes. Watch this space.

Image caption,
The electric helicopter that might fly over disaster zones

Small planes rules:

This was always going to be a major theme for the commercial airliners this year as they look at beefing up their fleets in the face of increased demand from passengers in Asia, but also try and manage uncertainties ahead. So when in doubt, why not buy a smaller plane? On the first day of the airshow, Japan's Mitsubishi Aircraft bagged an order for 10 of its MRJ90 regional jets from a US based leasing company. The jet seats between 70 to 90 passengers and it's these sorts of planes that we are likely to see do quite well at the airshow.

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