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General Aviation Scene in Singapore

by Max Thiam - 24 July 2010

Singapore’s General Aviation (GA) scene is disproportionately quiet for a First World cosmopolitan city. There is a huge growth potential waiting to be tapped both in business and leisure aviation. Currently, there are only 3 flying clubs with 1-2 aeroplanes each operating out of Seletar Airport that offer single engine GA aircraft rental for private flying or flying training  to private pilots. They are Republic of Singapore Flying Club (RSFC), Seletar Flying Club (SFC) and the new kid on the block since end 2009 - Discovery Flying Club (DFC).

All these 3 clubs put together have far less aircraft than the biggest operator of GA aircraft in Seletar Airport – The Singapore Youth Flying Club which has 13 Diamond 40 aircraft after phasing out their 12 Piper PA-28 in 2010. However, this club is out-of-bound to all adult private flying as it is a government funded club meant for youths with a purpose of attracting potential military pilots to join the Republic of Singapore Air Force.

Limited air space in Singapore for GA flying or training is one main reason for this lack of GA buzz in Singapore. Below Map shows the area of operations for Singapore General Aviation.

                     

Most of the time, private flying or flying lessons in Singapore can only be done in 3 spatial areas designated as Area Alpha , Bravo and Charlie.  Area Alpha is bounded by the Causeway in the north and the Bukit Timah Satellite Stations in the south, covering mostly the central nature reserves. It starts from 1000 feet to 3500 feet while Area Charlie is simply an vertical extension of Alpha from 4000 feet to 10,000 feet. Another bigger area is the AREA BRAVO which starts from 4000 feet to 10,000 feet high covering northern central Singapore over Sembawang Air base control zone. With prior clearance from the authority, one can also fly the ‘scenic route’ – A wide circular route from AREA A to Pasir Panjang (called point Whisky) to St. John Island (called point Sinjon) passing Sentosa and then to overfly Paya Lebar Airport before turning west to Macritche reserviour and back to AREA A.

Few years ago, I took my elder daughter for her maiden flight over Singapore and she wrote an article about her experience and it was published in a local magazine. (Jia Min's maiden flight)

Regional Flying

The real fun of general aviation in Singapore is ironically flying out of Singapore to nearby cities and islands. Without refueling, a full tank of most general aviation single engine aircraft such as the Diamond 40, which I am flying currently with DFC, can bring 3 passengers and the pilot from Singapore to Langkawi. Flying to Tioman island only takes an hour of flight and you can have a round of golf and a sumptuous seafood lunch and be back in Singapore in half a day. This is in contrast to the long hours of driving and bumpy boat rides, not to mention the perpetual traffic jams at the customs before you can even set foot on the pristine beaches of Tioman island.

This is exactly what 2 friends and I did on a weekday morning. We took our DA-40 to go for lunch in Tioman. On arrival, the airport tower staff were so friendly that they allowed us to do some landing practices to polish our skills especially for a tight and short runway of Tioman. It was so quiet that we had the whole airport to ourselves finessing our approaches and landings while at the same time taking in the fantastic views of Tioman coastal landscape. Below are some of the photographs and videos we took that day.

YM n me

coast

Also at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=datiUt0LkSg

&   https://youtu.be/pyB8fM1TDWA

Sightseeing and Familiarization Flights

Private pilots in Singapore conduct regular flights both locally and to nearby destinations. We normally rent aircraft from those clubs mentioned and we don’t mind sharing the joy of flying and sightseeing from the air with as many people as possible so that the GA scene here can be more vibrant.

There are occasions when we don’t fill up all 4 seats, so these empty seats can potentially be taken up by anyone who is interested to have a taste of private flying. The only request from the pilots is to help them defray the cost of the flight. I think this is a WIN-WIN for everybody. If you are keen or want to find out more, please contact me at Contact Us. Or you may want to get news and more information about these opportunities, please fill up your contact information below and I will keep you informed.

For flying training, please go to Singapore Private Pilot Licence.

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