As its iconic Trent engine family reaches the 25-year mark, Rolls-Royce (Stand N23) is also celebrating more than 10 years since its Singapore base at Seletar Airport was established. It has grown from a moderate outfit in 2009 into one of the five global hubs of the technology giant—the other four being the United Kingdom, China, India, and the Middle East. Located at Seletar Aerospace Crescent, 15 miles outside the city, the facility was built on the former army barracks and in 2012, began assembling Trent engines, a major step forward.
According to Rolls-Royce president for Southeast Asia, Pacific, and South Korea Bicky Bhangu, before plans were firmed up to set up the Seletar campus, Rolls-Royce evaluated the company’s needs and the country’s strengths, which include the expertise of its people and the friendly business culture. Bhangu sees huge potential in Rolls-Royce's Singapore operation, which covers Southeast Asia, the Asia-Pacific region, and Turkey.
Rolls-Royce has formed a partnership with the National Technology University of Singapore and its 150 researchers, the company's largest such collaboration in the world (Rolls-Royce also has ties with 31 other universities). Through these collaborations, Rolls-Royce runs research facilities that focus on new manufacturing and remanufacturing methods, while its other research laboratories focus on areas such as electrical power and control systems, manufacturing and repair, technologies and computational engineering, automation, and digital technologies.
Bhangu said that Rolls-Royce hopes to achieve zero greenhouse gas emissions from the Singapore facility by 2030. Beyond the Trent engine family, he explained that Rolls-Royce technologists are targeting 25 percent more fuel efficiency from new fan blade designs. To that end, the company has invested £25 million ($32 million) to set up a new manufacturing facility in Bristol to produce ultra-lightweight components for the ultra-fan blade that should reduce fuel burn and carbon dioxide emissions by about 25 percent compared to the first Trent engine. The Bristol facility commenced operations in January 2020.
The Singapore facility is the only one outside the UK to produce titanium fan blades for the Trent engine series. The test-and-assembly site produces the Trent 900 engine for the Airbus A380, Trent 1000s for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, and Trent 7000s for the Airbus A330neo. In 2019 Rolls-Royce had 5,200 engines operating across the globe, with 1,000 in the Asia Pacific region.
The company did not comment on its plans for the Trent 900 following Airbus’s decision to scale down production of the A380. The Trent 900 was the first Trent engine to be produced in Singapore, and it was delivered to Airbus in Toulouse, France in November 2012.
Rolls-Royce's Seletar Assembly and Test Unit will increase production of the Trent engine series from 200 in 2018 to 230 in 2020. The facility’s design production capacity is 250.
Bhangu said Rolls-Royce will expand its MRO services in the future, with a focus on new technologies. It already has more than 1,000 employees in Seletar and plans to hire another 80 technicians in 2020, he said.