Redevelopment work has begun on Singapore's Seletar airport as part of plans to transform it into a centre for business aviation and maintenance, repair and overhaul in Asia.

The Jurong Town Council, a government agency tasked with formulating a blueprint for the site and in charge of the infrastructure work, says the final plans for the new Seletar Aerospace Park will be unveiled in "two to three months" - about six months later than expected. "We took some time as we are still getting feedback from the stakeholders," says the council.

But the construction of new roads and hangars and preparatory work for an extension of the runway and new taxiways has begun. The control tower at Seletar, Singapore's first international civil airport and later a military camp, could be relocated within the airport to make way for the facilities. This would boost the site's MRO capabilities - currently, Airbus A320s can take off from Seletar only if they are empty and their fuel tanks are half full.

Over 30 aerospace companies, which include business aviation firms and MRO operators, have their offices in Seletar's hangars and barracks. Some are temporarily moving to buildings elsewhere in the airport, as their premises will be demolished as part of the redevelopment, while others are quitting Seletar altogether. Tenants at colonial era-bungalows within the camp have also been told that they have to move by the end of 2008.

Aviation schools are also on the cards, as Singapore tries to ride on the high demand for aerospace professionals. The Singapore Youth Flying Club, which trains young people for the private pilot's licence, and the Singapore Flying College, which provides ab initio training for future Singapore Airlines pilots, are currently located in Seletar.

The 140Ha (345 acre) Seletar Aerospace Park will open in phases over the next eight years, and one beneficiary of the S$60 million ($40 million) project is government-linked Singapore Technologies Aerospace (ST Aero), a subsidiary of publicly listed ST Engineering. The company, which bases its narrowbody MRO operations at Seletar, will open its third hangar at the site this week and is seeking approval for further expansion.

Source: Flight International