Rolls-Royce is continuing to ramp up production at its Singapore engine assembly plant as it works to develop the new Trent 7000 and new technologies for future engines.

The Seletar plant assembled 80 engines last year, a mix of Trent 900 and Trent 1000s, and is working to achieve its target of 250 engines per annum by the end of 2017, says Bicky Bhangu, Rolls-Royce director for Singapore.

Rolls-Royce also makes fan blades in Singapore for Trent 900, Trent 1000 and Trent XWB engines. Bhangu says it produced 3,100 fan blades in Singapore last year and is ramping up production to achieve annual production of 7,600 blades by end of 2017.

The engine-maker recently announced that the Singapore facility would assemble the Trent 7000, the engine that will power the Airbus A330neo. This is a significant development, because Rolls-Royce Singapore will also be helping to develop the engine. Previously, all engine development was done in Europe, and after Rolls-Royce had successfully tested the engines in the UK, as was the case with the Trent 900 and Trent 1000, production was then transferred to Singapore.

Rolls-Royce Singapore will also assemble test engines and use its test cell to test the Trent 7000, although the first two test engines will be made in Derby, England, says Bhangu.

Rolls-Royce aims to have the Trent 7000 certified in first quarter 2017 with entry into service in the fourth quarter of that year. Airlines that have ordered the A330neo include Delta Air Lines and AirAsia X.

Rolls-Royce also has a technology development center at Seletar, next to its engine assembly and fan-blade factory. It is currently developing new processes for surface modification and finishing; new electrical systems that can reliably work with aircraft engines and help power electronics and control systems; data analytics; and new repair techniques, especially for composite parts.

Bhangu says Rolls-Royce Singapore last year gained its first global patent. It covers technology for electrical systems that will power future Rolls-Royce engines.

Rolls-Royce is also a member of AStar’s Advanced Remanufacturing and Technology Center at Nanyang Technological University (NTU). AStar is the Singapore government agency for science, technology and research. The center’s key areas of research, all of which are relevant to the aerospace industry are: surface enhancement, repair and restoration; robotics; additive manufacturing; and production verification, which involves measurement techniques for geometric, dimensional and topographic information.Nanyang Technological University (NTU). AStar is the Singapore government agency for science, technology and research. The center’s key areas of research, all of which are relevant to the aerospace industry are: surface enhancement, repair and restoration; robotics; additive manufacturing; and production verification, which involves measurement techniques for geometric, dimensional and topographic information.

Bhangu says Rolls-Royce works with 31 tertiary institutions around the world, of which Singapore’s NTU is the 31st. He says Rolls-Royce has a corporate lab within NTU that has 190 employees, 80 of whom are Rolls-Royce employees. The purpose of this lab is to encourage “blue skies” research and then develop useful commercial applications.

Rolls-Royce also offers 100 internship programs each year for Singapore university and polytechnic students. He feels it is important to engage the young and encourage them to join Singapore’s aerospace industry.

As part of its effort to engage the next generation, Rolls-Royce will participate in the Singapore Airshow’s Education Day, to be held Feb. 18 and 19. The show organizers will bus in high school and tertiary students as well as national servicemen to the show. A section of the show site will be set up so attendees can learn about courses relevant to Singapore’s aerospace industry. Aerospace companies will also be there to show the work that they do. Rolls-Royce plans to have one of its Trent 1000 engines that it assembles in Singapore on display for the students.

In addition to assembling engines, manufacturing fan blades and developing new technologies in Singapore, Rolls-Royce bases its customer support center for the Asia-Pacific region there. There are 600 Rolls-Royce engines operating in the region, accounting for 20% of the global tally, and the manufacturer forecasts that number will increase to 1,600 in 2018.

To support its airline customers in the region, Roll-Royce established a customer support center in Singapore in 2015. The center provides technical support, data analytics and fleet planning. This is the first Rolls-Royce customer center of its type and the company plans to roll out similar centers in other parts of the world.