DPM Teo Chee Hean at Opening Ceremony for Singapore Airshow 2018

SM Teo Chee Hean | 5 February 2018

Speech by DPM and Coordinating Minister for National Security, DPM Teo Chee Hean, at the opening ceremony for the Singapore Airshow 2018 on 5 February 2018.


“Building a Vibrant Aviation & Aerospace Industry” 

Deputy Prime Ministers and Ministers,
Chiefs of Defence Forces and Service Chiefs,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good evening to all of you. 

A warm welcome to all of you. Many of you have been steadfast partners since our first Airshow in 1981. As exhibitors, speakers and participants, your attendance continues to contribute to building a strong network which can tap the opportunities in the Asia-Pacific region.

Positive Outlook for Asia-Pacific’s Aviation and Aerospace Market

The International Air Transport Association has forecast continued strong growth in passenger traffic in the region, with more than half of new passengers coming from the Asia-Pacific region. Air traffic flows within ASEAN, have almost doubled since the signing of the ASEAN Air Services Agreement in 2009.  With all ASEAN countries having ratified the Agreement in 2016, we will have achieved the objective of ASEAN Open Skies, giving an added boost to connectivity. 

Carriers and aircraft using Singapore’s Changi Airport have also benefited from this growth. Last year, Changi Airport reached new milestones of 62.2 million passengers and more than 2.1 million tonnes of international air cargo.

We are also working with fellow ASEAN members to enhance air connectivity with other regions. The ASEAN-China Air Transport Agreement entered into force in 2011, and similar air transport agreements are being discussed with the Republic of Korea and Japan. The ASEAN-EU Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement being negotiated has the potential to be a global model for region-to-region air services agreements. ASEAN and EU companies can leverage these linkages to expand into new markets, and travellers can choose from more air connections, shortening their travel time.  

Indeed, many airlines in the Asia-Pacific have already ordered larger and more eco-efficient aircraft to tap on this growth potential. These airlines are expected to take 37 per cent of all new aircraft deliveries worldwide over the next 15 years, ahead of their counterparts in Europe, North America and the Middle East.  This significant increase in Asia’s fleets will also provide companies many downstream opportunities in MRO, manufacturing and aftermarket services. 

Since the last Airshow, many companies such as Thales, Eagles Services Asia and JEP Precision Engineering have expanded their manufacturing and MRO activities in Singapore to capture new opportunities in our region.  

More companies are locating in Singapore, tapping the strong ecosystem here and building an even stronger aviation and aerospace cluster. I am pleased to announce the setting up of GE Aviation’s Asia-Pacific Centre of Excellence in Singapore, to manufacture high-thrust, high pressure compressor vanes for GE90 and GE9x engines used in the latest Boeing jets. This project will raise the level of advanced manufacturing and industrial automation processes carried out here in Singapore. 

We are working in collaboration with international agencies, countries in our region, and our industry partners to support and promote the growth of the aviation sector in our region. Let me highlight three key areas: developing modern air traffic management architecture to cater to traffic growth in our region; developing new technologies with companies to improve products, processes and productivity across the spectrum of activities in the aviation sector; and growing and deepening the skills of the aviation professionals needed to support the aviation sector’s growth in our region. 

Modern Air Traffic Management Architecture

First, developing modern air traffic management architecture. We will need new technology, processes and solutions to increase capacity and keep ahead of the rapid growth in air traffic in our region. 

It is no longer sufficient to look only to national solutions, as the increase in air traffic, especially international traffic, requires us to look to a more integrated architecture to improve efficiency, safety and capacity.

ASEAN Member States have recognised this need. In 2012 , ASEAN Member States committed to a Seamless ASEAN Sky vision – where procedures and operations will be harmonised and inter-operable, creating seamless airspace across our skies. 

To support this vision, ASEAN Transport Ministers adopted the ASEAN Air Traffic Management Master Plan in Singapore last October. Under the ASEAN ATM Master Plan, Member States are working on initiatives aligned with ICAO’s ATM plans and principles, including the use of Air Traffic Flow Management, System Wide Information Management  and satellite-based systems. 

Singapore is contributing to this effort to advance the air traffic management capabilities of our region. The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (or “CAAS”) is developing Singapore into a Centre of Excellence for Air Traffic Management. CAAS will undertake R&D and partner industry to develop innovative technologies for air traffic management. 

For example, CAAS is working with UK NATS, the UK air navigation services provider, to develop a smart digital tower that will be trialled at Changi Airport over the next two years. CAAS will work with industry to test solutions for a digitised, real-time view of the aerodrome using state-of-the-art camera systems, advanced surveillance, and information tools. Changi Airport is expected to be the first major airport in the world to be equipped to manage air traffic with a smart tower capable of handling high traffic volumes. 

With strong support from industry, we are confident that such initiatives can help optimise operational efficiency, enhance the safety of runway and ground operations and support higher air traffic volumes.  

Developing New Technologies to improve Products, Processes and Productivity

Second, developing new technologies with companies to improve products, processes and productivity across the entire spectrum of activities in the aviation sector. The aviation industry is a key component of Singapore’s US$15 billion (S$19 billion) national Research, Innovation and Enterprise plans out to 2020. Our universities and research institutes are working with companies to raise the technology levels in the aviation and aerospace sector to improve competitiveness. For example, since 2013 Rolls Royce has had a corporate lab with Nanyang Technological University.

SIA has launched its Digital Innovation Blueprint and will partner the National University of Singapore, and Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research in virtual and augmented reality, and the Internet of Things. ST Aerospace is partnering the Nanyang Technological University to develop more consistent and reliable ways to 3D print aerospace parts.

Many of you would also have visited our new Terminal 4, which was opened last year, in October. Terminal 4 incorporates new technologies to enhance customer experience and facilitate automated operations. We have started detailed planning for Terminal 5 which will cater to 50 million passengers per year in its initial phase.  There will be more opportunities for companies to develop, pilot and deploy their solutions. At the technology forums this week, our public agencies, research institutes and companies will be discussing exciting new areas such as additive manufacturing, machine learning and speech recognition for air traffic management, and data analytics for predictive maintenance. I look forward to more fruitful partnerships springing from these discussions.

Growing and Deepening the Skills of Aviation Professionals 

Third, growing and deepening the skills of the aviation professionals needed to support and power the growth in our region. 

We will need more professionals in the aviation industry, with new and deeper skills.

We expect the pace of digitisation and technology adoption to accelerate. Advanced technologies are transforming existing jobs and creating new ones such as industrial data analysts, robotics engineers and 3D printing designers. 

We have launched two industry transformation maps – for our Air Transport sector and the Aerospace Industry. We want to grow the value-added in the air transport and aerospace industry by 20 % from 2015 levels to US$ 9 billion (S$ 11.7 billion) by 2020 and create 6000 new jobs. As part of this transformation, we have developed a Skills Framework for the Air Transport and Aerospace sectors which will help develop industry-relevant programmes for both pre-employment and continuing education to prepare the workforce with the future skills needed for the industry. 

This includes work-study programmes for trainee aircraft maintenance engineers and technicians, and also specialised training programmes for those making mid-career transitions from other industries.  

I visited Changi Airport and SATS last year to see how they are developing and applying new technology. These innovations can be developed and deployed only with the deepening of skills among the professionals in the sector – using virtual reality glasses during ramp operations to visualise the identity of cargo containers and match them with cargo manifests in real time, and the end-to-end automation of our baggage and cargo operations to improve visibility and efficiency.


Ladies and Gentlemen, the Singapore Airshow provides an important platform to bring together members of the aviation and aerospace community, decision makers and industry captains. We have an exciting Airshow ahead. 

This year, we welcome several first-time visitors to the Airshow - the US’ F-35B and Global Hawk, the Royal Australian Air Force’s E-7 Wedgetail as well as the Royal Thai Air Force’s Gripens. 

I would especially like to thank our friends who have brought their pilots, aircraft and teams for the flying displays. These have always been a highlight, and I, along with all the other visitors, look forward to them. 

Finally, I would like to congratulate our Air Force, the  Republic of Singapore Air Force which will be launching its 50th Anniversary celebrations at the Airshow to commemorate the RSAF’s contributions to secure skies and the  defence of Singapore.

On behalf of the Singapore Government, I thank all of you for your continued strong support for the Singapore Airshow.  I wish all of you great success. Thank you.