Singapore: Asia's Aerospace Hub

The Singapore Airshow is Asia’s largest and one of the most important aerospace and defence exhibitions in the world. Despite being a platform of choice for industry leaders and high-level government and military delegations to network, forge partnerships and do business, it is also a springboard into the thriving Asia-Pacific region.
Singapore has achieved a strong reputation as a global air hub. With over 450 accolades, Changi Airport is widely recognised as one of the world’s best international airports. As of 2013, the industry achieved a record output of over $8.7 billion, and employed over 19,800 workers.
 
Today, there are over 100 aerospace companies in Singapore with nose-to-tail capabilities that include irframe maintenance, engine overhaul, structural and avionics systems repair, as well as aircraft modifications and conversion. These core competencies, coupled with commitment to quality and safety, have made Singapore a recognised one-stop solutions provider for airlines’ maintenance and repair needs.
 
Besides MRO, aerospace-related R&D in Singapore has grown significantly over the past few years. The 2014 Airshow which played host to over 1,000 exhibitors from 47 countries ended with lucrative deals, its organisers say. The total announced deals that were sealed during the event were worth $32 billion among them contracts for Airbus, Embraer, Boeing and Rolls-Royce.
 
According to Singapore’s EDB, in the recent past, key investments have been made on the following aerospace sectors:
 

MRO

 
Companies have been expanding to ride the growth in Asia-Pacific, and have been deepening their MRO capabilities to service new generation aircraft that are entering the market. Recent new investments include:
 
Bombardier Aerospace is setting up a new Bombardier Service Centre (BSC) to offer comprehensive aftermarket services to their customers in the Asia-Pacific region. The new facility will be the first company owned and company-operated BSC in Asia- Pacific. It will be capable of performing a variety of light to heavy maintenance tasks for the full range of Bombardier business jets – the Learjet, Challenger and Global aircraft families.
 
To pre-position for business aviation growth in Asia-Pacific, Jet Aviation has constructed a new hangar next to its existing facility to increase its MRO capacity to service new large business aviation aircraft types such as the Gulfstream G650, G280, future GLX, and Bombardier Global Express 7000/8000 aircraft. Beyond the expansion of MRO activities, the new hangar allows Jet Aviation to add capabilities in aircraft modifications, avionics upgrades and interiors refurbishments.
 
Meggitt Aerospace Asia Pacific has officially opened its new aftermarket centre at Seletar Aerospace Park. This will enable Meggitt to offer comprehensive aftermarket support to their growing base of Asia-Pacific customers, especially as new aircraft such as Boeing’s 787 and Airbus’ A350 come into service in the Asia-Pacific.
 
Safran Electronics Asia has plans to develop repair capabilities for Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) engine control units including that of the GE90, CFM56, and GEnX in Singapore to support the rapid growth of the Asia-Pacific fleet.
 
ST Aerospace has built a two-bay narrow-body hangar in Changi North to increase its annual MRO capacity by 200,000 man-hours, and has constructed a new General Aviation hangar as part of the expansion of its facility in Seletar Aerospace Park.
 
Standard Aero opened its new engine overhaul facility at the Components Manufacturing and Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul Facilities (CMMF) at Seletar Aerospace Park. It provides complete MRO services for Rolls-Royce M250 turboshaft engines, which are widely used on Bell helicopters.
 
Pratt & Whitney’s newest facility is the company’s first investment in Seletar Aerospace Park, and will undertake the MRO of PW4000 low pressure compressor stators, high pressure compressor shrouds and air seals. Significantly, Singapore will be P&W’s only in-house OEM MRO centre for these commercial aero-engine products in the world.
 
This myriad of investments and activities enhances Singapore’s comprehensiveness as an after market services hub.
 

Manufacturing

 
Manufacturing will continue to be a key pillar in Singapore’s economic development. The city-state has started, and will continue to invest in, the development of advanced manufacturing technologies such as robotics, additive manufacturing and data analytics. Many companies have cited Singapore’s strong manufacturing base, skilled manpower and focus on science and engineering as reasons for setting up manufacturing activities here. Recent new investments include:
 
In 2013, Pratt & Whitney broke ground on its first engine component manufacturing facility in Singapore. The Seletar facility will manufacture hybrid fan blades and high pressure turbine disks for its latest Geared Turbofan engines that will power five new generation aircraft platforms.
 
RLC Engineering Group will be opening their first facility outside the British Isles, at Seletar Aerospace Park. The company specialises in the provision of complex manufactured products to the aerospace industry, and its new facility will manufacture titanium panels for Rolls-Royce’s wide chord fan blade facility.
 
ST Aerospace was selected by Airbus to be the engineering and programme lead to develop the A330 Passenger-to-Freighter (PTF) conversion. This is the first time Airbus is appointing a third-party to develop a PTF conversion, which is the most complex aircraft modification type. The A330 PTF development programme will seed the formation of a sustainable aircraft modifications development centre.
 

Research & Development

 
Singapore is fast establishing itself as an R&D hub. Besides the increasing aerospace R&D efforts driven by public-funded research institutes and universities, aerospace companies’ in-house R&D footprint has also grown with the increase in manufacturing activities in Singapore. Highlights include:
 
A*STAR’s Advanced Remanufacturing & Technology Centre (ARTC) is a public-private centre that performs R&D to develop technologies for remanufacturing that can be readily adopted by industry. The R&D of three core themes in repair and restoration, surface enhancement and product verification will enable companies and businesses to translate end-of-life products into “good as new” ones for the market. Participants include leading industry companies such as IHI, Rolls-Royce and Siemens.
 
In March 2013, NUS’ Department of Mechanical Engineering launched the Centre for Aerospace Engineering (CAE) in collaboration with three industry partners, namely DSO National Laboratories, SIA Engineering and ST Aerospace. The CAE is a comprehensive centre for aerospace-focused research, education and outreach activities.
 
Pratt & Whitney’s new facility at Seletar Aerospace Park will provide MRO for PW4000 engine components. It also houses Pratt & Whitney’s engineering arm, Global Services Engineering-Asia. This engineering hub for Asia-Pacific was first established as a 25-man engineering centre in 2005 to augment its aftermarket support in the region. Over the years, Pratt & Whitney’s engineering presence has grown significantly to a 100-man engineering centre, and now provides research and design services to Pratt & Whitney’s aftermarket businesses worldwide.
 
Rolls-Royce’s Advanced Technology Centre (ATC) is now well established in Singapore to support Seletar Campus’s manufacturing activities through its research in manufacturing technologies and provision of materials support. The ATC also delivers R&D solutions in the areas of computational engineering and electrical power & control systems to Rolls-Royce’s global R&D network.
 
In July 2013, Rolls-Royce @ NTU Corporate Lab was launched as a joint-investment by NTU, Rolls-Royce and the National Research Foundation (NRF). The $75 million tie-up kick-starts 32 new projects over the next five years, and will train up to 70 researchers, 40 PhD and 25 Masters’ students. Its core research areas are in electrical power and control systems, manufacturing and repair technologies and computational engineering.
 

Supply Chain Management

 
Singapore’s connectivity and robust infrastructure have made it ideal for aerospace companies to site their regional distribution centres here. Recent new investments include:
 
Airbus and Satair is opening a joint distribution, logistics, repair and support service centre at Seletar Aerospace Park which will also house Airbus’ inventory of spares and parts, supporting the Asia-Pacific region. Other companies with spares distribution facilities in Singapore include Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier, Embraer, GE Aviation, Messier-Bugatti-Dowty and Pratt & Whitney.
 
Today, more than 20 aircraft lessors operate their regional headquarters from Singapore, performing key functions such as sales and marketing, aircraft asset management, technical support, financing and legal services. Highlights include:
 
Nordic Aviation Capital Singapore foresees significant growth potential for Asia-Pacific and is keen to grow its Singapore operations to support Nordic Aviation Capital’s marketing efforts in Asia Pacific.
 
Titan Singapore Aircraft Leasing was established to support the Group’s sales and marketing efforts of freighter aircraft in Asia Pacific, China and Africa. The local office has plans to establish new functions in fleet management and finance.
 

Training

 
Singapore is committed to developing talent to meet the needs of the industry. Aerospace courses and specialisations offered at local technical and tertiary institutes remain highly popular, and local education institutes produce over 1,500 aerospace trained graduates annually. Singapore has also evolved to be a training hub for the region. Recent new investments include:
 
ATR opened its new training centre at Seletar Aerospace Park. The centre will house the company’s first ATR 72-600 aircraft full-flight simulator outside its headquarters in Toulouse.
 
Boeing Flight Services’ Singapore Campus (BSTFS) is one of Boeing’s three regional training campuses, and provides maintenance training for aircraft operators and total training solutions for pilot and cabin crew. In April 2013, BSTFS announced the installation of two new full-flight simulators – a Boeing 777 and Next-Generation 737. The simulators are expected to be ready for training in mid-2014.
 
CAE’s Singapore Training Centre at Seletar Aerospace Park currently has installed two A320 full-flight simulators, an A320 cabin crew emergency evacuation training device and an A320 integrated procedures trainer.
 
To better support its airline customers from both North and South Asia, Haite has invested in a new pilot simulator training centre at Changi Business Park, their first investment outside China, which will house six full-flight simulators.
 
ST Aerospace opened its first integrated training services hub called the Seletar Aviation Centre (SAC). The SAC combines a six-bay pilot simulator training centre with an aviation technical training centre, allowing ST Aerospace to better serve airlines’ talent training needs from one location.
 

Education

 
Over the years, there has been stronger collaboration between industry players and education institutes that offer both full- and part-time courses. As such, ensuring that the academic curricula at the local education institutions remain industry-relevant and aligned with regulatory requirements is of top priority. This will develop talent who are equipped with the most relevant skills required for the advancement of Singapore’s aerospace industry.
 

Outlook and New Growth Opportunities

 
The long term prospects of the aerospace industry remain highly positive. Over the next two decades, some 35,000 new aircraft are anticipated to be delivered; and Asia-Pacific is in the vanguard leading this growth, accounting for over a third of all deliveries.
 
Singapore is well positioned to ride this growth. Over the years, the city-state has leveraged its strategic location in the heart of Asia to develop a strong aerospace cluster. The Singapore Government remains committed to the aerospace industry. Manpower and infrastructure development will continue to support further growth in MRO, manufacturing and R&D activities in Singapore, thus capitalising from emerging trends and emerging markets in Asia Pacific and beyond.
 
 
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