AIRCRAFT manufacturer Kelley Aerospace is looking to bring more than 250 locals under its wing as it moves more of its operations to the city-state, a bright spot in a turbulent industry hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. It is also looking to open an academy to train about 500 pilots in five years.
Its programmes, if successfully based in Singapore, can contribute about S$150 million to the Republic over the next five years, the company said at a media briefing on Thursday evening.
The aircraft manufacturer, which targets the private travel space, will train and upskill the necessary workforce of aviation and composite specialists in-house. It aims to tap aviation crew displaced by the crisis to prop up its workforce.
The company manufactures carbon fibre and fabricates carbon fibre components for private jets. It also designs, develops and manufactures frameworks and components of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
Registered in Singapore since 2008, Kelley Aerospace has several carbon fibre manufacturing, production, as well as research and development businesses in countries such as the US, China, Japan and South Korea.
There are three initiatives the firm is piloting. Firstly, it said that it is developing a business jet that can fly at the speed of sound for corporate and private clients worldwide, and has orders for about 100 of these jets.
Two of its prototypes are now undergoing tests and evaluations in the US and Sweden. The aircraft is also in the midst of a certification process with the Federal Aviation Authority in the US.
It also aims to maintain a fleet of 100 aircraft from Airbus, Boeing, Dassault and Embraer by 2024 for its clients. Inflight meals will be prepared by three-star Michelin chef Bruno Menard. These aircraft will be based out of Singapore, South Korea, Japan and China.
"Over the next year, we will be purchasing five aircraft to retrofit into a corporate jet. We intend to start operations by 2021 and build the fleet to 100 aircraft by 2024," the company added.
Next, it plans to design, manufacture and assemble UAVs - including its Black Eagle UAV - in Singapore, which it will need a local workforce for.
The firm is also developing a new supersonic UAV, called Arrow, which its engineers have worked on over the past few years. It is ready to move forward with a prototype.
Lastly, it will build up its capabilities to design and manufacture carbon fibre for use in aircraft. When in full force, it expects to be able to make around three UAV frames in a day, versus current standards of one every few weeks. These frames will also be lighter, stronger and more durable, it noted.
The company also said it aims to collaborate with the universities and polytechnics in Singapore for research and development on raw materials, to make them more durable, lighter and stronger.
These programmes could "spearhead the development of high-quality carbon fibre design and manufacturing capabilities in Singapore", Kelley Aerospace said.