Rolls-Royce opens largest Asian facility

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Aircraft engine giant Rolls-Royce opened its largest Asian facility in Singapore on Monday as it looks to capitalise on the region's booming aviation sector.

The Rolls-Royce Seletar Campus will be the only facility outside of the firm's Derby plant in Britain to assemble, test and produce Trent 900 and Trent 1000 engines, the firm said.

The Trent 900 engine is widely used in the Airbus A380 superjumbo, while the Trent 1000 series can power Boeing's latest Dreamliner series.

"This part of the world has played a key role at enabling us to double the size of our business in the last decade," Simon Robertson, chairman of Rolls-Royce, said at the plant's opening on the eve of the Singapore Airshow.

"And it is the continued demand from the fast-growing economies in Asia which underpins our confidence that we expect to double our revenues again in the next decade."

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong underscored the importance of the 154,000 square metre (1.66 million square foot) facility to the city-state, a regional aviation hub.

"It's a landmark project for Rolls-Royce and Singapore. Rolls-Royce calls this its facility of the future, and we treat it so. It's the single largest aerospace investment ever in Singapore worth Sg$700 million ($559 million)," he said at the opening.

"It enables Singapore to play a key role in supplying aircraft engines for the latest jets such as the A380 and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner."

The campus includes an assembly and test unit, fan blade manufacturing, research and development as well as a regional training centre.

It will be able to produce up to 250 engines per year at full capacity -- double the company's worldwide production -- with the first locally assembled engine to be shipped to Toulouse, France in the third quarter.

Rolls-Royce declined to name the customer, but Airbus is based in the French city.

The British firm's 'value-add contributions' in Singapore would reach about Sg$1.7 billion in three years, or about 0.5 percent of the city's projected gross domestic product, said Jonathan Asherson, Rolls-Royce's regional director of Southeast Asia.

The Singapore facility would allow Rolls-Royce to capitalise on the region's growth, said Mike Terrett, the firm's chief operating officer.

"The Asia-Middle East market together has been our strongest growth area largely because there's been such a high demand for (wide-body aircraft)," he said.

Globally, airlines will need 33,500 new planes valued at $4.0 trillion by 2030, with Asia accounting for about 35 per cent of the total, US aircraft maker Boeing said on Monday.

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