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Singapore enhances its Aviation Academy to train next-gen aviation professionals

At the 2nd Changi Aviation Summit Welcome Dinner, President of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Council, Mr Salvatore Sciacchitano (left), and Singapore Minister for Transport and Second Minister for Finance, Mr Chee Hong Tat (right) signed two agreements.
At the 2nd Changi Aviation Summit Welcome Dinner, President of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Council, Mr Salvatore Sciacchitano (left), and Singapore Minister for Transport and Second Minister for Finance, Mr Chee Hong Tat (right) signed two agreements.

CAAS unveils plans to upgrade SAA, focusing on advanced training for aviation professionals and supporting global and Singapore’s aviation growth.

Singapore Minister for Transport and Second Minister for Finance, Mr Chee Hong Tat, unveiled at the 2nd Changi Aviation Summit Welcome Dinner the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore’s (CAAS) plans to enhance the Singapore Aviation Academy (SAA), to train the next generation of aviation professionals and support the growth of international aviation and the Singapore air hub. The enhancement will help SAA strengthen its position as a leader in civil aviation training, a convenor of global expertise and experience, and a thought leader in civil aviation.

Developing and delivering deep expertise in civil aviation

With increasing complexity in day-to-day aviation, SAA, which today offers over 110 aviation courses, will undertake a thorough view of its curriculum and refresh it to better equip aviation professionals with new competencies to help them navigate the post-COVID world, including in important functions such as aviation safety as well as emerging areas such as sustainability and innovation. The enhanced SAA will also sharpen its sharing of Singapore’s experience in developing and running an international air hub in areas such as aviation management, aviation safety and security and air traffic services through lectures by experts and collaboration with local and international partners, including its newly appointed SAA Senior Fellows. SAA will focus on developing and delivering deep expertise in civil aviation, adopting an international yet uniquely Singapore practice-oriented approach, to differentiate itself from other aviation universities and academies around the world.

In line with this approach, CAAS has appointed three senior professional staff to head the SAA Schools of Aviation Management, Aviation Safety and Security, and Air Traffic Services to review and develop new professional curricula, build up the pool of trainers, and convene new platforms for thought leadership and engagement:

Aviation Management

Mr Daniel Ng, CAAS’ Chief Sustainability Officer and Senior Director of the Aviation Development Group, has been appointed Head of SAA School of Aviation Management. The School of Aviation Management will enhance its management and leadership programs for aviation professionals. It will launch a new program on Climate Change and Aviation Sustainability in October 2024, organized jointly with Airports Council International (ACI) World. This is the first course in SAA that covers a broad range of sustainability issues from sustainable aviation fuels to social sustainability issues and external challenges.

Aviation Safety and Security

Mr Alan Foo, Senior Director of the Safety Regulation Group, has been appointed Head of the School of Aviation Safety and Security. The School of Aviation Safety and Security will introduce new programs in cybersecurity, mental health, runway safety and safety culture, through collaboration with local and international partners. It will refresh its suite of programs in domains such as aerodrome regulation, airworthiness, aviation medicine and flight operations.

At the Changi Aviation Summit Welcome Dinner, Minister Chee Hong Tat and President of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Council Mr Salvatore Sciacchitano signed a new Annex to the Singapore-ICAO Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Cooperation in Leadership and Management Training for SAA to develop and deliver up to seven runs of a refreshed ICAO-SAA Directors-General Programme on Aviation Safety over the next three years. The training programme targets Directors-General to help them better manage safety-related challenges post-COVID and to provide a closed-door platform to discuss topical challenges.

Capt. Amornvaj Mansumitchai, President of IFALPA (left) and Mr. Han Kok Juan, Director-General of CAAS (right), signed a Memorandum of Understanding on aviation safety training and competency development.

Capt. Amornvaj Mansumitchai, President of IFALPA (left) and Mr. Han Kok Juan, Director-General of CAAS (right), signed a Memorandum of Understanding on aviation safety training and competency development.

On the same day, Mr Han Kok Juan, Director-General of CAAS and Capt Amornvaj Mansumitchai, the President of the International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations (IFALPA), also signed an MOU for SAA and IFALPA to work together on the curation and delivery of safety programs for pilots and other safety professionals, in areas such as competency development, safety culture and human factors. Both parties also agreed to build up a pool of trainers for these programs.

Air Traffic Services

Mr Vincent Hwa, Director of Air Traffic Services, has been appointed Head of the School of Air Traffic Services. The School of Air Traffic Services will develop new programs on emerging operational concepts such as Trajectory Based Operations (TBO). It will refresh its current suite of programs in core domains to build a new generation of skilled air traffic controllers to meet future needs especially when the new Changi Airport Terminal Five comes into operation.

To support this effort, CAAS will also appoint five international and local industry veterans as SAA Senior Fellows. The SAA Fellows will guide curriculum development, personally deliver training programs targeted at C-suite executives and Directors- General as well as mentor SAA scholars. The five Senior Fellows are well-regarded for their expertise and contributions to the aviation sector (please see Annex A):

  1. Mr Stephen Creamer – Former Director of Air Navigation Bureau at ICAO
  2. Mr Patrick Ky – Chief Executive Officer of the International Centre for Aviation Innovation, and former Executive Director of the European Aviation Safety Agency
  3. Mr Mak Swee Wah – Former Executive Vice President of Operations and Chief Operations Officer of Singapore Airlines
  4. Mr Ng Chin Hwee – Former Chief Executive Officer of SIA Engineering Company
  5. Mr Yacoob Piperdi – Former Chief Executive Officer of SATS Gateway Services
Providing a unique learning experience and public spaces for all to enjoy

Over the next two years, to better equip SAA with the enlarged roles, SAA will undergo a $120 million transformation to increase its training capacity by 20% and provide an enhanced learning experience for aviation professionals at the junior, middle management, and C-suite levels, with technology-enabled classrooms and more networking and informal learning spaces.

The new SAA building will also be a vibrant hub providing new community and event spaces for the public to enjoy. These include a new rooftop terrace providing unique views of Changi Airport, a public events hall, a restaurant, a courtyard and new Aviation Gallery sharing the story of Singapore aviation with Singaporeans, including school students, tourists and foreign guests. The new SAA, with its public facilities and spaces, will add to the vibrancy of the Changi Village precinct, and support our efforts to engage families and young people and to interest more Singaporeans to consider taking up courses and careers in the aviation industry. The new SAA is designed by Ateliers Jean Nouvel together with local firm P&T Consultants.

The spatial transformation will start in April this year and be completed in 2026. During this period, SAA will continue to offer its training programmes at hotels and other conference venues in Singapore as well as overseas.

Established in 1958, SAA has grown from a local training school to become the global aviation training academy of today. Over the past 65 years, SAA has trained more than 157,000 aviation professionals from over 200 countries. SAA Alumni include current serving Directors-General of 16 countries.

To further extend SAA’s outreach and contribution to ICAO’s effort to develop the next generation of aviation professionals, Minister Chee Hong Tat and Mr Salvatore Sciacchitano also signed an MOU on the Singapore-ICAO Next Generation Aviation Professionals Scholarship Programme. The Scholarship Programme is targeted at young aviation professionals from all regions aged 35 and below, to provide them a foundation on key aviation topics. There will be an annual intake of 10 scholars, who will have the opportunity to complete a 6-week in-Singapore program at the SAA and an aviation company in Singapore within three years. Each SAA scholar will also be personally mentored by an SAA Senior Fellow.

Mr Han Kok Juan, Director-General of CAAS, said, “Demands of the aviation sector have changed significantly after the COVID-19 pandemic; CAAS is conducting a sector-wide manpower study to establish what Singapore needs. SAA’s enhancement will support this to ensure that the Singapore air hub has a strong pipeline of highly qualified, highly trained aviation professionals with deep expertise. The new SAA will also provide a better platform for CAAS to engage and contribute to international aviation, to learn from others’ experiences and to share Singapore’s approach, what have worked for us and what have not, and our thinking on how to navigate the future. SAA is uniquely located between Changi Airport and Changi Village. We are taking the opportunity of the enhancement to create new public spaces that Singaporeans can enjoy. We will integrate our plans for SAA into the larger development of the Changi Village precinct to add to its buzz, vibrancy, and offerings.”

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