$9m facility opens at Changi North to maintain Safran aircraft engines, will create 100 jobs

Mr Ng Chin Hwee, chief executive of SIA Engineering, at the opening of the firm's new Changi North facility on Feb 18, 2022. The facility was planned pre-pandemic in 2019, but its opening has been delayed until now, coinciding with the Singapore Airshow. ST PHOTO: SAMUEL ANG

SINGAPORE - SIA Engineering on Friday (Feb 18) opened a new $9 million facility in Changi North to provide basic maintenance services for French company Safran's aircraft engines.

The 1,945 sq m space will process about 60 CFM Leap-1A and Leap-1B engines each year and has the capacity to deal with a surge of up to 50 per cent in peak periods.

It anticipates growing demand for the relatively new, next-generation CFM Leap engines that are used for the Airbus A320neo and Boeing 737 MAX narrow body planes.

As at December last year, 3,971 of these engines are in service, with more than 19,000 orders in the pipeline.

The new facility enhances Singapore's capabilities as a maintenance, repair and overhaul hub, and Mr Ng Chin Hwee, chief executive officer of SIA Engineering, said the company hopes to extend its services to more engines.

"The opening of this facility is significant as an expression of our confidence in the recovery of the aviation and aerospace industries in Singapore and this region," he said.

"This aircraft engine services facility is among the first engine maintenance, repair and overhaul shops in the region to provide enhanced engine maintenance services for these next-generation engines.

"It provides the added capabilities and capacity for SIA Engineering Company to cater to the anticipated increase in demand for quick-turn maintenance and shorter engine turnaround."

He declined to say how much the deal with Safran is worth, owing to commercial sensitivities.

The facility had already been planned pre-pandemic in 2019, but its opening has been delayed until now, coinciding with the ongoing Singapore Airshow where more than 600 companies have gathered at Changi Exhibition Centre to discuss the way forward for the industry.

Services provided are intended for quick turnaround, or quick turn in industry parlance, so that the engines can be put back into planes as soon as possible. These include disassembling, assembling and some routine inspections, which together would take about 30 days.

Parts that need more complicated repairs will have to be sent to a workshop in Chengdu, China, and would lengthen the process.

SIA Engineering's pre-flight testing facilities for the engines should be available by the third quarter.

Mr Stefan Schmuck, senior vice-president of SIA Engineering's engine services, said the facility is expected to create about 100 jobs when fully operational.

A lot of the processes will be automated, from robots that carry the engines in and navigate via sensors to cranes that move the engines into their allocated bays.

At each point in time, 12 engines in various states of assembly and disassembly will be able to fit into the space. As the engines mature and more work is required, the space will likely have to be expanded, he said.

Ms Lim Ai Ting, JTC Corporation's director of aerospace and marine cluster, said the opening of the facility is a sign of the industry's confidence in its recovery. "We are expecting more facility expansions and openings in Changi and Seletar Aerospace Park this year," she added.

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