Singapore, 29 Jan 2018 – Singapore Airlines (SIA) has joined hands with government agencies and the National University of Singapore (NUS), to use digital technology to build new capabilities that will benefit both consumers and the airline itself.

For instance, SIA is working with the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) to develop a way to predict when critical parts of aircraft need to be fixed or replaced. This is done with the help of A*STAR’s data analytics expertise to get insights on aircraft maintenance data.

This comes under the airline’s Digital Innovation Blueprint, which was launched on Jan 29 (Monday). It is SIA’s biggest technology initiative to date and comes as the airline faces intense challenges that have eroded its profits.

Besides A*STAR and NUS supporting SIA on its digital journey, the other agencies involved are the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and the Economic Development Board (EDB).

Speaking at the launch of the digital masterplan at the SIA Training Centre near Changi Airport, the airline’s chief executive officer Goh Choon Phong said that with strong competition, the airline needs to “reinvent ” and find new ways to distinguish itself from rivals.

“The aim of the masterplan is to get staff to think differently and challenge current practices,” he added.

Also speaking at the launch, Mr S. Iswaran, Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry), said that “digitalisation is transforming if not disrupting industries, and catalysing new growth areas”, including in the aviation and aerospace industries.

“And we are likely to see a significant impact across the value chain – from customer service and airline operations, to aircraft manufacturing and maintenance, repair and overhaul,” said Mr Iswaran.

The Digital Innovation Blueprint’s areas of focus include research, innovation and entrepreneurship.

A key focus will be on building capabilities to increase effectiveness and efficiency through digital technology and open innovation as well as to develop new business opportunities.

The initiative is part of SIA’s ongoing three-year transformation programme, the airline said.

SIA is also setting up a digital innovation lab to enable staff to work with innovative companies including start-ups, established incubators and accelerators, to stimulate new ideas and facilitate collaboration in a creative environment.

The partnerships with CAAS and EDB will, among other objectives, drive traveller-centric convenience with digitally-enabled experiences and engagements.

CAAS director general Kevin Shum said that SIA’s digital push will complement other key initiatives being undertaken by the aviation and aerospace sectors under the Air Transport Industry Transformation Map (ITM).

The tie-up with A*STAR aims to develop smart solutions to help lower maintenance costs and help SIA enhance service standards.

For the project on predicting when aircraft components need to be fixed or replaced, work has started on A380 aircraft parts and this will be progressively extended to other aircraft types in SIA’s fleet.

Two Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) were also signed between SIA and NUS.

Under the first MOU, the airline and three NUS faculties – Business, Computing and Engineering – will establish and pursue joint research projects, with a focus on longer term research related to business challenges that do not have immediate solutions available today.

The second MOU has SIA collaborating with NUS Enterprise – the entrepreneurial arm of NUS – to jointly develop and grow new technologies, start-ups and talents that can solve SIA’s businesses challenges.

NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye said he hopes the partnership will open new opportunities for NUS researchers, students and start-ups to create and commercialise technologies that could accelerate the digital transformation of Singapore’s aviation sector and redefine the air travel experience.