ST Engineering Expands MRO Capabilities, Digital Connectivity

Drilling robot
A drilling robot for floor grids during freighter conversion.
Credit: ST Engineering

SINGAPORE—Digitalization is a key element to how ST Engineering’s aerospace division plans to enhance its customer service as its Asian aftermarket business recovers and the company expands its global footprint and capabilities.

ST Engineering’s MRO business already is largely digitized, but as it grows, the company is looking into new apps that customers could use to monitor status updates on their aircraft, engines or components.

ST Engineering is based in Singapore, but “we have more [MRO] visits outside of Singapore today than in,” so the company is looking at “how to ensure that we have similar levels of digitization and standardization, and how do we harmonize apps across all of our footprints so that we can bring the same level of service and support [to customers],” says Jeffrey Lam, ST Engineering’s president of commercial aerospace.

The second piece of creating more connected, digital businesses is the analytics piece. Lam says the analytics development work slowed during the pandemic when “everybody was in survival mode,” but Lam hopes customers “will resume their interest and exploration of the analytics tools that us and our partners, and even our competitors,” are looking at to support “longer on-wing time and lower costs.”

The Asia-Pacific MRO market, which has lagged North American’s and Europe’s recovery, is showing signs of comeback as several countries lift COVID travel restrictions. To prepare for a global recovery, ST Engineering is in the process of adding hangars to its Guangzhou facilities in China and in the U.S. to expand its capacity.

It also recently announced an expansion of its engine MRO capability by adding CFM LEAP-1B services. By mid-2023, it plans to open a test cell for the engine in Singapore. It already has test cell capabilities for CFM56-5B and -7B engines at its facilities in Singapore and in Xiamen, China, so extending services into the LEAP powerplant is a natural progression.

“We see a great future for this engine” and for the aircraft it powers, “so we want to be in a position to support our customers as they transition to a newer fleet,” says Lam.

“We are in very active discussion with OEMs on adding capability that we can support,” says Lam.

In addition to apps and digital analytics, ST Engineering also is looking at additive manufacturing and various automation tools for productivity and efficiencies. One of those is automated drilling, which it has started to use in passenger to freighter conversions.

Lee Ann Shay

As executive editor of MRO and business aviation, Lee Ann Shay directs Aviation Week's coverage of maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO), including Inside MRO, and business aviation, including BCA.