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APEX Insight: The Singapore Airshow is an opportunity for aviation’s leading companies to share their latest products and their visions for the future of flying. This year’s event reflected Singapore’s commitment to supporting emerging technologies and the important role it plays as a regional hub for aviation.

In addition to daredevil aerobatic flying displays and tours of NextGen aircraft, last week’s Singapore Airshow featured gadgets galore and was a feast for the senses.

Tech-wear and Robots with Byte

RAMCO Systems and Air France Industries KLM Engineering & Maintenance celebrated the opening of their new MRO lab in Singapore with an exhibit featuring wearables for ground engineers and drones to inspect planes. Their MRObot, developed at the lab, put its best wheels forward to greet guests. James Kornberg, innovation director at AFI KLM E&M, said “Singapore is famed for being a major center of innovation in Southeast Asia.”

“Singapore is famed for being a major center of innovation in Southeast Asia.”— James Kornberg, AFI KLM E&M innovation director

Airbus Group brought its own Air-Cobot to the show, designed to speed up aircraft visual inspections. Honeywell’s K9 C2SA also drew a lot of attention — though he wasn’t moving around much. The surveillance technology worn by the huggable K9 C2SA stuffed model can improve surveillance and rescue in tight spaces, when fitted on a real Labrador or German Shepherd.

3-D Printing Makes Strong Impressions

General Electric (GE) Aviation showed off its 3-D printing capabilities, used to build new fuel nozzles. To prove the power of the technology, GE also showcased a model of a GEnx jet engine – with spinning blades – printed with a special technique called 3-D direct-metal laser melting.

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GE engineers produced this model of a GEnx jet engine using an advanced 3-D printing technique called direct-metal laser melting. Image via GE Tumblr

Rolls-Royce and the Singapore-based Agency for Science Technology and Research also drew attention to their 3-D printing projects. The two companies are collaborating with the Singaporean government to advance 3-D printing technology centers of excellence.

Virtually There

Boeing treated Singapore Airshow visitors to a virtual reality (VR) tour of its aircraft cabin interiors. Honeywell put VR magic to work with an immersive tour of the cockpit, using custom-printed Google cardboard viewers. ST Engineering showed how the Oculus Rift could be used to help pilots run cockpit procedure drills. Singapore Changi Airport held an augmented reality airplane activity at their booth. After designing and coloring their own aircraft, visitors could watch their custom-made liveries fly over Changi.

There’s plenty more high-tech to come. Organizers said the focus at the next Singapore Airshow, in 2018, will be on the virtual and augmented reality capabilities of Asian countries.

We can’t wait to see what tech trends will dominate at the Farnborough International Airshow in July!

Marisa Garcia was once locked in a hangar in Oberpfaffenhofen while fine-tuning Gandalf’s new seats. Seriously. The firemen got her out. Writing is less confining, but she has lovely memories of those hands-on days.