Gearing up to grow aerospace industry

Singapore's aerospace hub at Seletar could run out of space in about 10 years at the rate it is developing today.

Although only half the 120ha of available land has been taken up by about 60 local and foreign firms, plans are on for the next phase of Singapore's aerospace industry development, JTC's assistant chief executive for the aerospace cluster, Mr Alvin Tan, told The Straits Times.

Mr Tan did not say where the next cluster will be located but industry players said Changi East, where the future Changi Airport Terminal 5 will be built, is being considered.

Works spearheaded by JTC to transform the sleepy area around Seletar Airport into a vibrant aerospace hub started in 2008.

The development of the 300ha site, including the airport, was done in three stages.

More than eight years later, Seletar Aerospace Park is home to global names such as engine makers Rolls-Royce and Pratt & Whitney, as well as home-grown firms including ST Aerospace.

Together, they employ about 5,000 people and operate either out of their own facilities or shared premises built by JTC.

The JTC developments include three high-rise buildings and 14 factories.

The second and third buildings will open this month, Mr Tan said.

Apart from the big boys, small and medium-sized local companies such as Wah Son Engineering and WingsOverAsia have thrived at Seletar, adding to the diversity of the area, Mr Tan said.

Wah Son, which moved to Seletar last July, operates out of an 8,000 sq m purpose-built facility.

The firm serves both international and local companies such as UTC Aerospace Systems, Bombardier and Vector Aerospace.

The clustering of aerospace-related operations and businesses at Seletar helps companies to derive benefits from economies of scale and the synergies from being in an integrated environment, said Wah Son executive director Lim Hee Joo.

Singapore's aerospace industry, which is made up mainly of the maintenance, repair and overhaul of aircraft engines and parts, accounts for more than 2 per cent of the economy.

Even as Singapore aspires to be the premier Asian hub for aerospace services, there is growing competition from neighbouring countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam.

Mr Subhranshu Sekhar Das, Asia-Pacific vice-president for aerospace and defence at Frost & Sullivan, said: "Despite the competition, Singapore is the clear leader with a comprehensive range of services and products as well as superior logistics and other support services."

This article was first published on Feb 10, 2016.
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