Home' Asian Aviation : AAV March 2019 Contents 24 AsianAviation | March 2019
and it is useful to look at examples of how their presence builds
the eco-system that makes the island so attractive for aerospace.
Pratt & Whitney has been in Singapore in a variety of forms for
35 years. Today it has six businesses covering engine and compo-
nents MRO and the manufacturing of highly specialised parts for
the geared turbofan (GTF) engines.
The company, with joint venture partner SIA Engineering, has
invested US$85 million to upgrade its main engine MRO business,
Eagle Air Services, to accommodate the GTF PW1100-JM, the geared
turbofan powerplant for the Airbus A320neo.
It has modernised the facility, upgraded engine repair lines to a
visual flow concept and incorporated a ‘Connected Factory ’ concept.
This allows it to work with paperless work orders and sign-offs and
will soon add training using augmented reality systems.
Rolls-Royce has been in Singapore since the 1950s and has its
Asia-Pacific regional hub located there. Rolls-Royce opened the Se-
letar Campus in 2012 and the company says it accounts for more than
14 percent of Singapore’s aerospace output.
The Seletar operation is a manufacturing,
assembly, test, training and research facility
and from there it assembles and tests the
Trent engines. The facility is the only place in
the world outside of the main plant in the UK
to manufacture the patented hollow, titanium
wide-chord fan blade.
The Customer Service Centre for Asia-Pa-
cific is also in Singapore and from there
customers are serviced by a multi-functional
team with expertise in engineering, service
delivery, digital capabilities and commercial
GE Aviation and SIA Engineering (SIAEC)
have formed a joint venture that will specialise in repair services for
the GE90 and GE9x engines. Singapore will be the only location in
Asia-Pacific with the capability to service the GE9x, the powerplant
for the new Boeing 777X entering service in 2020.
GE said the facility will combine GE Aviation’s design, engineering
and innovation strengths with SIAEC’s expertise and delivery in MRO
services. It will leverage off GE’s ‘Brilliant Factory ’ concept by using
robotics, digitalisation and data analytics to enhance productivity.
Singapore Economic Development Board assistant managing
director Lim Kok Kiang said the new joint venture underscores Sin-
gapore’s MRO leadership in Asia. “Local engineers and technicians
can look forward to acquiring sophisticated skill sets in data ana-
lytics, advanced materials and automation in this highly advanced
facility,” he said.
It is this combination of OEM, local partners and MRO operators
supported by a government that sees aerospace as vital to its eco-
nomic future and invests in it accordingly that positions Singapore
at the top of the industry.
What Singapore has is unique and there will not be another aer-
ospace ecosystem built in Southeast Asia to match it. That does
not mean that emerging markets cannot develop successful and
profitable MRO sectors; it just means they need to do it their way.
Of the 16,900 new aircraft forecast by Boeing to be added to the
fleet over the next 18 years, many will be operated by low-cost carriers
(LCCs) in markets such as Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam. It is likely
these carriers will outsource their MRO needs or sign up to the power
by the hour agreements so favoured by aircraft and engine OEMs.
Either way there will be a need for more MRO capacity in the local
country and it will be up to MRO operators, be they new entrants,
existing operators or investors to put together the partnerships that
suit the needs of each situation.
Many OEMs, like Pratt & Whitney and Airbus, are developing
networks of authorised MROs, simply because their own facilities
do not have any capacity left to meet the service obligations.
Lufthansa Technik (LHT) recently said it was in talks with potential
partners to boost investment in Asia-Pacific to meet the growing
needs of the region.
Senior vice president for corporate sales
in Asia-Pacific, Gerald Steinhoff, said their
Philippines MRO facility is nearly booked
out for the next two years and that LHT
had been forced to reject some base and
engine MRO work for a lack of capacity,
tooling and materials.
Airbus and Thai Airways have agreed to
develop a new MRO operation in Thailand
that will offer heavy maintenance and line
services for all types of widebodies with spe-
cialised repair shops and a training centre.
This project reinforces Airbus’ commit-
ment to strengthen Thailand’s bid to become
a major aerospace hub, a goal actively pursued under the Thai
government ’s aerospace development programme.
Vietnam is also getting into the game. Singapore’s ST Engineering
has announced a proposed joint venture with Vietnam Airlines to
provide component MRO services to the airline and other operators
in the region. ST Engineering said: “It will start with support for a
wide range of technology groups, including pneumatics, hydraulics
and electrical components before potentially increasing the collab-
oration to include aerostructure and airframe MRO.”
The two companies have also entered into a 14-year component
maintenance-by-the-hour contract to support Vietnam Airlines fleet
of 58 A321ceo and 20 A320neo and will include future arrivals of
It is this type of joint venture between a fast-growing airline and
an established MRO provider in an underserviced MRO region that
is likely to bring the biggest success in emerging markets.
There is no other place that can offer what Singapore can but
there are plenty of greenfield locations where new models of MRO
can and will take hold.
Singapore is one of the
major aviation markets in
the world, they have a large
national carrier, they are a
major aviation hub system
with a well-developed
TOM DE GEYTERE , AJW
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