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Speech by Minister Gan Kim Yong at General Electric Aviation's 40th Anniversary Celebration

Speech by Minister Gan Kim Yong at General Electric Aviation's 40th Anniversary Celebration

Ms Hadley Bowling, Asia Pacific Sales Vice President of GE Aviation,

Mr Iain Rodger, Managing Director of GE Aviation Singapore,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Opening

1. Good morning to all of you. It gives me great  pleasure  to be here today to celebrate GE Aviation’s 40th Anniversary in Singapore. This is a major milestone for GE Aviation as well as for  Singapore.

GE Aviation’s contributions to Singapore

2. GE Aviation’s journey here started in 1981, when it opened its first plant to repair aircraft components. 40 years later, GE Aviation’s footprint in Singapore has grown significantly.

a. Singapore is now the largest site for GE’s engine component maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) operations, accounting for 60% of its global repair volumes.

b. Over the years it has steadily expanded its operations and anchored more capabilities here. Most recently, in 2019, GE Aviation invested S$42 million to build a new facility in Seletar Aerospace Park to produce high-pressure compressor vanes segments for its GE90 and new GE9X engines that will be used to power next-generation Boeing 777X aircrafts.

3. Thanks to the strong partnership with companies such as GE Aviation, Singapore has established itself as a leading aerospace hub.

a. Today, we are a key manufacturing node for high-value, mission-critical parts such as engine components and avionics, with nose-to-tail MRO capabilities. We are also responsible for 10% of global MRO output. From 2015 to 2019, our aerospace manufacturing and MRO output grew at a CAGR of 10%.

b. The industry has also created good jobs for Singaporeans, with 8 in 10 jobs held by locals. GE Aviation currently employs over 1,700 people, of which 56% are locals, across commercial, MRO, as well as manufacturing activities.

Singapore is committed to helping the aerospace industry recover from the pandemic

4. Of course, the industry has hit a speed bump due to COVID-19.

a. Global travel restrictions and tightened borders worldwide grounded flights and reduced demand for air travel, which had knock-on effects on the aerospace industry.

b. In 2020, Singapore’s aerospace manufacturing output fell by 26% and Some companies  had to resort to cost-cutting measures due to the prolonged crisis.

5. Singapore has been committed to helping aerospace companies preserve their core capabilities during the downturn and supporting the industry’s recovery.

a. Many companies would have benefited from the Enhanced Job Support Scheme (JSS), which provides eligible aerospace companies with almost two years of wage subsidies.

6. We have also provided support for workers in training and upskilling during this period to capture new opportunities.

a. Since September 2020, we have extended the Enhanced Training Support Package (ETSP), which is administered by SkillsFuture Singapore, to the aerospace industry. Under this package, over 2,300 individuals have undergone training to be better equipped for recovery.

b. Aerospace companies have also tapped on Workforce Singapore’s Career Conversion Programme for Aerospace Officer and Aerospace Executive, as well as the Support for Job Redesign under the Productivity Solutions Grant to reskill their workers and take on new roles in new segments.  In 2020, about 300 workers were reskilled and redeployed within the Aerospace sector under the Career Conversion Programme.

7. I commend our workers and industry partners for your perseverance during these difficult times.

Confidence in the aerospace industry’s resilience and long-term prospects

8. I am also confident that the aerospace industry will be able to bounce back as we emerge from the pandemic.

a. The industry has recovered from various crises in the past, such as the SARS outbreak in 2004, and the economic recession in 2008.

9. While COVID-19 is our biggest challenge yet, we are already starting to see some signs of recovery in the industry.

a. In September 2021, Singapore’s aerospace industry grew 22% year-on-year, albeit from a low base.

b. Aerospace companies also continue to expand, and are looking to hire over 1,000 workers in the next two years. GE Aviation, for example, is planning to hire 300 employees in 2022.

10. Singapore is  taking steps towards resuming our status as an aerospace hub by opening up our borders and restarting our flight connectivity with other countries. The Vaccinated Travel Lanes have proven to be very crucial, and our experience with the first few VTLs has given us greater confidence that we can progressively reopen our borders safely.

11. While it may take time for air travel demand to return to normal, the industry’s long-term prospects remain positive, and there are many new opportunities emerging.

Singapore will partner the industry to seize long-term opportunities and invest in capability development

12. Looking ahead, Singapore will continue to partner the industry to invest in (a) capability development and (b) talent.

Investments in Capability Development

13. The industry must  continue to invest in capability development, and ensure that our manufacturing and MRO facilities remain best-in-class globally.

a. To do this, we need to leverage technologies such as automation, robotics, Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), and additive manufacturing. This will help to raise productivity, improve reliability, and strengthen the competitiveness of the industry.

b. The industry will also need to work together to build up capabilities in emerging areas. Let me name a few.

i. First, with more data being collected from aircraft, aerospace companies can tap on big data and develop digital services to help airlines run their operations more effectively.

ii. Second, we can harness autonomous technologies and advanced communications to reduce operating costs and enable enhanced pilot decision-making and safety.

iii. Third, we can also incorporate sustainability in our plans and explore technologies such as sustainable aviation fuels and electric propulsion to reduce the environmental impact in the aviation sector.

14. Singapore has continued to partner our aerospace companies to explore these opportunities and invest in capabilities for the future.

15. Our partnership with GE Aviation is a good example. GE Aviation has worked with the local community to drive new initiatives that champion R&D and innovation.

a. In 2014, GE Aviation established a Centre of Excellence for repairs of High-Pressure Turbine Airfoils. In 2017, you established a Research Group to develop advanced repair technology in Special Coatings & Advanced Aerospace Material. In the following year, you set up an Automation and Robotics Lab in Singapore to develop robotics and automation solutions as well as upskill your workforce.

b. GE Aviation’s Singapore facility is also the world’s first MRO facility to be approved by international regulators to use additive manufacturing in the repair of commercial jet engines. Our local engineers were involved in the development of this new additive manufacturing repair technology.

Investments in Talent

16. Singapore also seeks to partner the industry to invest in our talent pipeline, and develop a future-ready workforce equipped to seize new growth opportunities and ensure business sustainability.

17. GE Aviation has actively partnered Singapore to nurture and train new talent over the years.

a. An example is the Work-Study Diploma in Aircraft Engine Maintenance, launched by the Institute of Technical Education in partnership with GE Aviation. The programme allows individuals to work as aircraft engine technicians and attain a Diploma at the same time, which will help them with their career progression.

b. For mid-career individuals, GE Aviation provides On-the-Job training for individuals from non-aviation industries under the Career Conversion Programme, they are later offered opportunities to embark on a new career in the aerospace industry.

18. I applaud these efforts and encourage more companies to step forward and partner us in the development of  our talents here.

Closing

19. As we emerge from the pandemic, the aerospace industry must continue to be bold in uncovering innovative solutions and preparing for the future. EDB and the rest of the Government stands ready to partner our companies in new and exciting projects that will build a robust runway for long-term growth.

20. Let me conclude by once again thanking GE Aviation for your commitment to Singapore and your longstanding partnership with us. Congratulations on a fruitful 40 years, and may your business continue to soar for many more years to come.

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