SINGAPORE - The battered aviation industry took another step towards recovery on Thursday (Dec 3) with news that Kelley Aerospace will invest around $150 million over the next five years on initiatives, including job creation and manufacturing.
The projects will be undertaken at the company's first facility in Seletar Aerospace Park, a former military airbase that is now home to global and home-grown firms.
Kelley Aerospace said on Thursday it would train and upskill at least 250 locals to retrofit private jets and manufacture carbon fibre for planes. It is also looking to open a flying academy to train pilots for its jets.
The American firm is launching three programmes here.
One involves buying 100 aircraft by 2024 that will fly private clients around the world, with in-flight meals prepared by Michelin chef Bruno Menard.
Clients will be by invitation only for the private network, which will operate out of Singapore, South Korea, Japan and China.
The second programme is to design, manufacture and assemble unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), including the Arrow UAV, which has been worked on by engineers over the past few years.
Kelley Aerospace said it is ready to move forward with a prototype, and will need to train employees to help with its manufacturing.
It estimates that it will be able to make the frames of three UAVs every day when its production line is fully operational, much faster than the typical pace of one every one to three weeks.
The third programme will strengthen its core business of designing and manufacturing carbon fibre, which is used in the building of aircraft. It plans to work with universities and polytechnics here on research and development to create materials that can be stronger, lighter and more durable.
Kelley Aerospace director Aviv Kelley hopes the Singapore facility can be used as a regional hub as well as help integrate the company's bases in countries including the United States and China.
"It gives us the connection between Japan, the US and China, and gives us many opportunities. It's perfect for business," he said.
Thursday's announcement comes amid a tentative recovery in the aviation and aerospace sector.
A $38 million campus bringing together all of airplane maker Airbus' operations in Singapore was officially opened last month, a move Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing described as a "statement of confidence" in the country.