Bombardier quadruples size of service centre in S'pore as private jet business soars

Bombardier's new centre is expected to support more than 2,000 business jet visits each year. ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

SINGAPORE - Aircraft manufacturer Bombardier on Thursday (June 30) unveiled an expanded service centre in Singapore that is four times the size of the original amid a surge in demand for private jet services globally.

The centre is expected to support more than 2,000 business jet visits each year and is now the largest maintenance facility of its kind in the Asia-Pacific region, a key part of the firm's global network, Bombardier said. Before its expansion, the service centre supported 895 private jet visits in 2019.

"With this major expansion, the Singapore Service Centre will provide infinite benefits, including quicker aircraft turnarounds, greater convenience and peace of mind to Bombardier's growing customer base in Asia," said Mr Jean-Christophe Gallagher, executive vice-president for services and support, and corporate strategy.

Bombardier chief executive Eric Martel told reporters at Thursday's launch that business jet traffic in the Asia-Pacific region, barring China, has bounced back and the service centre in Singapore is already seeing aircraft visits that would amount to about 2,000 per year.

"We're not exactly back to where we were pre-Covid-19, but there is less than a 10 per cent gap," he said. "Now that the traffic is coming back, we feel that the facility is going to be filled very, very quickly... I'm pretty optimistic that it will do better than pre-Covid-19 eventually."

The Canadian firm also said it is now able to offer business aviation operators a more environmentally friendly fuel option at Seletar Airport after receiving its first batch of sustainable aviation fuel from oil and gas giant Shell.

Located at Seletar Aerospace Park, Bombardier's expanded service centre spans 27,000 sq m, up from 6,500 sq m previously. Work on the US$85 million (S$118 million) expansion began in 2019, but faced delays because of the pandemic.

New additions to the centre, which first opened here in 2014, include a full-service, environmentally controlled paint facility - the first in Asia - and new heavy structural and composite repair capabilities. The expanded centre also houses an integrated parts depot that is open 24/7, and will serve both Singapore and the wider region.

With a new 7,300 sq m hangar, the centre is able to accommodate up to 30 jets at a time, double its previous capacity.

There are also key support functions at the centre, such as engineering, sales and customer support, as well as an expanded portfolio of component, repair and overhaul services, Bombardier said.

It added that environmental sustainability was a key part of the expanded service centre's design. Green features include electric vehicle chargers, LED lighting and low-flow plumbing fixtures.

Solar panels installed on the building's roof and carpark structures, which have a total capacity of 1MW, will reduce the facility's energy consumption by 15 per cent of its annual electricity demand.

To support the expanded service centre, Bombardier is also hiring more workers.

The facility currently employs more than 200 people, including over 160 licensed engineers and technicians. The firm is in the midst of hiring about 50 more workers this year and plans to hire another 40 to 50 next year.

Bombardier’s Singapore Parts Depot is the largest in the region. ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

In January, Bombardier also introduced a 45-month apprenticeship scheme with Temasek Polytechnic to secure a pipeline of local talent.

The first cohort consists of eight people who will receive the classroom and on-the-job training needed to qualify as a certified licensed aircraft maintenance engineer at Bombardier.

The Business Times reported last year that private aviation service providers have been building up their physical presence in Singapore due to strong demand in South-east Asia.

Jetcraft, which deals in used business jets, opened an office here last October, while Air 7, a charter service operator, established a marketing arm here the month before.

Air 7 Asia executive director Stefan Wood said his firm has been struggling to keep up with demand since Singapore and other countries in the region relaxed their travel restrictions in the last three months.

"It is never-before-seen demand and we need more aircraft. We are flying at least 25 days a month and some days we are doing multiple flights," he said.

"Personally, I think the demand is going to last until at least the next year. People want to travel and commercial airlines are not ramping up as much."

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