CAAS plans Singapore aviation transformation

State-of-the-art technology to transform air traffic control operations such as the development of a Smart Tower prototype for remote air traffic control operations are to take centre stage in transformation efforts to create better jobs, improve productivity, and enhance Changi’s competitiveness.

The Smart Tower will provide a completely digitised real-time view of the aerodrome from state-of-the-art digital camera systems. This will allow air traffic controllers access to advanced surveillance and information tools to manage live air traffic, which can augment operations. Such advanced tower technology will transform the provision of air traffic control services by enhancing situational awareness and visibility, as well as improving operational efficiency.

The initiative was announced as part of the Air Transport Industry Transformation Map (ITM) which was unveiled today. This is part of Singapore’s efforts to support the sector’s growth and competitiveness over the coming years, where annual passenger traffic is expected to increase by 3 per cent. The Air Transport ITM aims to achieve real value-added growth of 16 per cent from 2015 to 2020, boost productivity by 3-4 per cent per annum, and create more than 8,000 new good jobs in the sector by 2025.

Director-general of CAAS Kevin Shum said: “The aviation sector plays a key role in driving Singapore’s economic growth. The Air Transport ITM is part of the Singapore government’s larger strategy to promote growth and competitiveness for 23 industries across the economy and create good jobs for Singaporeans. As we set our sights on the next phase of the sector’s growth, we are working in close collaboration with tripartite partners – companies and unions – to implement the ITM plans.”

The Air Transport ITM was developed by the Air Transport Industry Tripartite Committee (ITC), comprising 16 key representatives from industry, unions and government. ITC members account for 85% of employment and 95% of value-add in the sector. As the main platform for setting strategies and forging consensus for ITM initiatives, the ITC meets regularly to track the progress of ITM implementation.

In the pipeline is a slew of innovation and productivity initiatives across various facets of the industry, as well as job upskilling and retraining incentives, which will be funded by CAAS’ Aviation Development Fund. Key industry stakeholders such as the Changi Airport Group (CAG), SATS, Singapore Airlines (SIA) and SIA Engineering Company (SIAEC) are also committing resources towards this transformation.

Some key initiatives under the Air Transport ITM include innovative solutions to improve productivity, such as:
 Trials on autonomous systems to move passengers, baggage, cargo and other equipment around the airport;
 Prototypes to automate baggage loading and unloading for narrow-body aircraft, as well as for the build-up of cargo pallets;
 Real-time location tracking of airport ground support equipment and cargo shipments;
 Digital apps and smart wearables to enable the real time provision of information and decision making tools to workers, allowing faster response time and optimal decision making;
 An automated passenger loading bridge (PLB) that can autonomously dock with the aircraft door using precise detection lasers and sensors. Currently being trialled, this is the world’s first automated docking system designed for robust operations under harsh weather conditions such as heavy rain.

A new air transport degree programme will also be developed by CAAS, together with a suitable university and industry partners. This will enable the programme to best suit the industry and students’ developmental needs, and attract the right talent. Substantial opportunities for internships and/or work-study training will also be offered to ensure the students’ seamless transition into employment in the aviation sector.

Funded schemes for retraining and upskilling, such as the SkillsFuture Study Awards for the Air Transport Sector to encourage Singaporeans to develop and deepen career-related specialist skills, and the Professional Conversion Programme (PCP) which helps make it easier for mid-career workers to transit into an aviation job. Under the PCP, mid-career Singaporeans can undergo both classroom and structured on-the-job training, which will prepare them for job opportunities as well as career

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