Rolls-Royce to consolidate fan blade manufacturing in Singapore

SINGAPORE – British jet engine-maker Rolls-Royce will manufacture its wide chord fan blades entirely out of Singapore and move some operations back to the United Kingdom, as part of the aerospace giant’s consolidation plans amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Republic is currently the only country outside of the UK where Rolls-Royce manufactures its hollow titanium wide-chord fan blades, used to propel the Trent aero engines on models like Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

From next year, it will begin to consolidate manufacturing volume at its Singapore campus at Seletar Aerospace Park, Rolls-Royce announced on Thursday (Aug 27).

Engine assembling and testing operations will be moved back to its plant in Derby, England, said Mr Bicky Bhangu, the firm’s president for South-east Asia, the Pacific and South Korea.

Rolls-Royce will seek other opportunities within its ecosystem here for the 300 or so workers in the Singapore assembly and test unit, Mr Bhangu said in a statement.

“With the expanded capabilities in both our high-value fan blade production and our maintenance, repair and overhaul joint-venture facility, we are presented with potential opportunities for our people,” he said.

The company is also exploring options for the assembly and test facility to be used for “near-term aerospace growth activities”.

Rolls-Royce’s Singapore campus, its first Asia-based aerospace facility, was hailed as a major boost for the sector when it opened in 2012.

It employed about 1,000 people here as of early this year, but announced last month (July) that 240 would be laid off as part of a global restructuring. Rolls-Royce said in May that about 9,000 jobsworldwide – nearly a fifth of its total headcount – would be slashed due to the devastating impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the aviation industry.

Mr Bhangu said the decision to consolidate was similarly driven, adding that demand for Rolls-Royce’s civil aerospace products and aftermarket services have been badly affected.

On the consolidation, he said: “We believe it will deliver an operationally effective and sustainable solution for the reduced level of demand in the commercial aerospace market that is expected to take several years to recover.”

The companyis working with partiessuch as the Singapore Industrial and Services Employees’ Union and National Trades Union Congress’ Employment and Employability Institute to help affected workers through the transition, Mr Bhangu said.

“We value our significant and long-term partnership with Singapore, and we remain fully committed to Singapore as a strategic hub for high-value manufacturing, research and technology, supply chain, our regional power systems business, and as the service centre for our civil aerospace customers in Asia Pacific.”

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