(Source: www.channelnewsasia.com)

SINGAPORE: The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) unveiled its Air Industry Transformation Map (ITM) on Thursday (Apr 20), detailing its mid- to long-term plans to transform the city-state’s aviation sector.

These include a new air transport undergraduate degree program, a “Smart Tower” for air traffic controllers to manage live air traffic, autonomous systems to move passengers, baggage and cargo in airports, wearable technology for ground staff to track operations, and the world’s first passenger boarding bridge designed for operations under harsh weather conditions, among others.

Through the ITM, CAAS said it aims to raise productivity by 40 per cent, and “redesign or create 8,000 good jobs” in aviation by 2025, including more jobs for professionals, technicians and cabin crew.

The ITM was developed by a committee of representatives from the aviation industry, unions, and Government, and is one of 23 under the Government’s S$4.5 billion Industry Transformation Program.

Speaking at the Aviation Community Reception on Thursday where he unveiled the ITM, Second Minister for Transport Ng Chee Meng said Singapore’s aviation sector “secured its leading position” through its open skies aviation policy, and an airport design to facilitate transfer passengers. Currently, Changi Airport serves nearly 7,000 flights a week. In 2016, the airport handled a record 58.7 million passengers, achieving 5.9 per cent traffic growth.

But amid land and manpower constraints and increasing competition from airlines and airports around the world, Mr Ng said the aviation industry “cannot rest”.

“Many countries also have ambitions to be the hub of choice. They are expanding their airports and their airlines are growing aggressively. To stay ahead of the competition, we need to constantly reinvigorate and rejuvenate ourselves.”

“We will need a comprehensive approach,” he added. “We must address every aspect of the airport and airline business, from passenger services, to cargo handling, airside functions, airline operations and air traffic control.”

Mr Ng also said the Government is investing S$500 million in the sector over the next three years through the Aviation Development fund, with a focus on partnerships with local companies and SMES to develop and export “designed in Singapore” aviation products.

“More projects are in the pipeline and we are ready to commit more resources,” he added.

Both industry players and the unions welcomed the plans.

“As we grow the Changi Air Hub and prepare for an increasingly complex operating environment, we are accelerating our efforts to drive productivity and innovation,” Changi Airport Group Chief Executive Lee Seow Hiang said.

Calling the ITM a “major milestone in the development of the Changi Air Hub”, Chairman of NTU Aerospace and Aviation Cluster Ong Hwee Liang said it was important for those involved “to communicate these strategic plans to every worker, as well as help them upgrade and upskill to prepare for the new technologies and skillsets needed”.

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