BENEATH the calm exterior of Dato’ Teng Chang Khim is a man brimming with purpose.
After two years of helping Selangor battle its coronavirus-induced economic slump, the exco for industry and trade is now eager to get business activities back into gear. For months now, Teng has been nurturing the perfect way to do so — for the state to hold its first-ever aviation show, the Selangor Aviation Show 2021 (SAS 2021).
“The time is ripe for waking the aviation industry up,” says Teng. “An airshow will be the best and fastest way to rebound from the downcycle. We have to shake off the pessimism that has engulfed the industry, exit from our survival mode and show that there is life after Covid- 19, especially in the area of business aviation.”
By business aviation, Teng means business travel by propeller planes, smaller jets and helicopters. Efforts are also being made by the state to grow the general aviation industry and to seize opportunities to invest in the manufacturing and sale of drones.
It all makes perfect sense.
More than 62 per cent of all aerospace- and aviation-related industries are located in and around Selangor. This is partly due to the activity and buzz created by the Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport (formerly the Subang International Airport or Subang Airport) which houses big players like Airbus Helicopters, Execujet Malaysia, Systematic Aviation Services, Westar Aviation, Sapura Aero and Asia Jets Partners Malaysia.
To date, there are also 16 major manufacturers of business aviation aircraft residing in Selangor: Airbus, Boeing, Dassault Aviation, Gulfstream, Piaggo and Bombardier are all examples of how the state has enough credible industry players to make the aviation show a success, even with scaled-down international participation.
Exhibitions, networking and more
If Teng has his way, come pandemic rain or shine, the aviation show would go on. Scheduled for November 25 to 27 this year, the stage has already been set at the SkyPark Regional Aviation Centre Subang, the venue for the event. The theme, too, has been chosen — ‘Asean as the Business and General Aviation Hub’. It conveys Selangor’s intention to lead the region in the aerospace and aviation industry.
It also promises to be different from both LIMA and the Singapore Airshow.
“In addition to an exhibition and the displays of 13 aircraft models, SAS 2021 will also provide a space for networking sessions and talks for trade visitors to attend,” explained Teng. Topics for the sessions range from Safety, Security and Sustainability to Aviation Policies, Regulations and Finance. There will also be a session on Experimental Aircraft and Drones, touted as a crowd puller.
“We are targeting 5,000 visitors,” Teng added. “Closer to the day of the event, proper standard operating procedures will, of course, be put in place.”
Teng may be the exco in charge but it has taken many bigwigs to put a show of this scale together. Organiser Invest Selangor Berhad has been tirelessly working through its division, the Selangor Darul Ehsan Aerospace Industry Coordination Office or S-Daico, to execute plans and promote the event. Help has also come in from the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, the National Aerospace Industry Coordinating Office (Naico), Systematic Aviation Services Sdn Bhd, ATS Turbine Services Sdn Bhd and the Aerodyne Group.
Subang leads the way
So what plans does Selangor have beyond the airshow, if investing in the aerospace and aviation industry is where it is headed?
“We would like to elevate Subang Airport’s status to attract the top-tier operators to locate their bases here. We want it to be the business aviation and general aviation hub in Asean,” Teng was quick to answer.
“How do we do that? First and foremost, we are working hard to achieve international accreditations and certifications to increase the standards and quality of the airport’s services. The Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia is also going to introduce new and specific regulations for all the operators there.
“There is no question that regionally, Singapore and Hong Kong are leading in the standards of execution, facilities and services for the business aviation industry. We are not that far behind although we still have room to grow,” he added.
On the services side — be it for air charter, MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul) or ground handling services — Teng said there is an ongoing effort to elevate their delivery standards.
“Again, infrastructure plays a big role here, and there are opportunities now and in the coming years to streamline Subang Airport’s design and layout to be more efficient in catering for specific travellers, such as high net-worth travellers like medical tourists, and for the transportation of high valuables.
“In the context of the Asean region, the differentiator that makes airports successful is the infrastructure. It is the most capital-intensive element.
“We also need to differentiate the development of Subang as an aviation hub against the other existing and well-developed hub in Selangor, which is the KLIA. Subang needs to play to its strengths and purpose,” said Teng.
Springing into action
To support the aerospace industry’s development and growth, the Selangor Aerospace Action Plan 2020-2030 was formulated and published in October 2019 after extensive consultation with industry stakeholders and relevant Federal government agencies and ministries.
The Selangor Aerospace Action Plan 2020-2030 is also aligned to the objectives of the Malaysian Aerospace Industry Blueprint 2030.
It focuses on the core industry sub-sectors that need to be prioritised and developed in the coming decade, namely:
- MRO activities for aircraft
- the aerospace manufacturing industry
- systems integration, and engineering and design (including research and development), and
- aerospace training and education.
Is Selangor ready?
“We are as ready as we’ll ever be,” says Teng. “At the height of the pandemic in 2020, the aviation sector was one of the hardest-hit industries worldwide. Everything came to a standstill. In a way, we had time to regather our plans and reorganise.
“The time has finally come to test out Selangor’s ability as business aviation and general aviation ecosystem. The SAS 2021 will create the needed hype to draw in investors. From there, we will keep working until we see investments come our way.”