CAAS Sets Up International Centre for Aviation Innovation to Foster Partnerships and Co-develop Solutions to Meet Rising Demand for Air Travel

10 January 2024

               The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) has set up the International Centre for Aviation Innovation (ICAI) to facilitate the development and adoption of technologies for the aviation sector to meet rising demand for air travel. The ICAI will undertake research and development (R&D) projects in four key areas: next generation air navigation services, automated and smart airports, unmanned aviation systems, and sustainable aviation. It aims to translate research for operational use and develop capabilities for the aviation ecosystem. Adopting a vendor-agnostic approach, ICAI will develop solutions with open architecture principles to support interoperability across different standards.

2             The ICAI will focus on the Asia-Pacific region where air travel demand is expected to grow robustly over the few decades. Located in Singapore, a major air hub in the Asia-Pacific and an international centre for business and innovation in Singapore, the ICAI will partner governments, industry and research institutes around the world to pool expertise and resources and co-develop solutions for the region. Mr Han Kok Juan, the Director-General of CAAS, has been appointed Chair of the ICAI’s Board and Mr Patrick Ky as its founding Chief Executive Officer. Please refer to Annex A for Mr Ky’s profile.

3             In order to meet the rising demand for air travel following the COVID-19 pandemic, the aviation sector will have to address complex and cross-border issues, such as ground and air space capacity constraints, manpower shortages, and the need to decarbonise air travel. Advancements in digitalisation, automation and clean energy technologies will help address these challenges but they are difficult and costly to develop and deploy.

4             To help the aviation sector better leverage technology, the ICAI will bring together governments, industry and research institutes to share risk and pool expertise and resources to tackle these challenges in a concerted and coordinated manner. This will help empower transformative changes which are difficult to effect by individual stakeholders, de-risk innovation and enable capacity building within the Asia-Pacific region.

5             The ICAI will take a broad-based, cross-domain approach to drive innovation in four key vertical domains: 

      i.         Next Generation Air Navigation Services

  • Develop and trial new concepts to optimise enroute and terminal air traffic handling capacities and enable seamless air navigation services, including setting up a Regional Experimentation Platform, which is a virtual and distributed platform that provides regional users common airspace situational awareness on weather and aircraft flight routes.

      ii.         Automated & Smart Airport

  • Drive Total Airport Management, digitalisation of airport processes and automation of repetitive and labour-intensive tasks, manage proof-of-concept trials and test-bedding efforts in actual airport operating conditions and engage industry to produce and deploy solutions at scale.

                 iii.         Unmanned Aircraft Systems

  • Develop and implement new operating concepts to integrate air traffic management for unmanned and manned aircraft while facilitating safe and secure adoption of advanced air mobility technology in urbanised and densely populated areas.

                 iv.         Sustainable Aviation

  • Develop new concepts to minimise carbon footprint of air travel through optimising air and ground operations such as advanced demand-capacity balancing, performance-based navigation, and optimisation of gate-to-gate trajectory.

6             The ICAI will also work on two horizontals: translating research to deployment, and capability development for the aviation system. As part of the overall effort to drive translation of research in the four domains, the ICAI will adopt a systems lifecycle approach in managing R&D from concept ideation to solution development and conduct of trials with partners to pool scarce resources and share risks. The ICAI will also set up a specialised Innovation Lab to model, simulate, and validate new concept of operations and their benefits.

7             As a major air hub in the Asia-Pacific region, Singapore recognises the importance of innovation for aviation and the need to facilitate its development and adoption through collaboration. CAAS has thus decided to set up the ICAI, with initial operations funded by CAAS and Singapore’s National Research Foundation. The ICAI will seek funding support from other partners.

8             To help kickstart the ICAI’s work on next generation air navigation services, CAAS will engage the ICAI to manage Stage 1 of Singapore’s Aviation Transformation Programme (ATP) 2.0 of S$140 million funded by Singapore’s National Research Foundation to develop new concepts of operations and prototypes, enhance our ecosystem of research institutes, and train researchers, scientists and engineers to advance next generation air navigation services. CAAS will also explore engaging the ICAI on a similar arrangement for the other three vertical domains the ICAI is working on.

9             Mr Patrick Ky, Chief Executive Officer of the ICAI said: “It’s an honour to have been appointed to lead this new organisation. It’s a challenging but exciting task, to build partnerships which can deliver tangible and operational results in such a complex environment. I look forward to working with Singaporean and regional partners to build a dynamic and sustainable aviation system.”

10             Mr Han Kok Juan, Director-General of CAAS, said: “Coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, the aviation sector needs to innovate and transform air travel, to meet growing demand and overcome ground and air space, manpower and carbon constraints. But technology development is costly in a complex and safety-critical aviation environment. Cross-border and public-private sector collaboration will help us de-risk investments and accelerate adoption. CAAS is happy to contribute to this international effort by setting up and funding the International Centre for Aviation Innovation and to catalyse its work by having the centre manage our Aviation Transformation Programme for next generation air navigation services. But we cannot do this by ourselves. We will reach out to other governments, industry and research institutes to come onboard. We are delighted to have Mr Patrick Ky take on the appointment as the founding CEO. Patrick has extensive expertise and experience in driving innovation and fostering collaboration across governments and with the private sector. We are confident that Patrick will help the ICAI establish a new model of collaboration and take the development and adoption of technology in the aviation sector to a new level.” 

Annex A

Profile on Mr Patrick Ky
Chief Executive Officer
International Centre for Aviation Innovation

Mr Patrick Ky was formerly Executive Director of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). Prior to leading EASA, he was in charge of the SESAR programme - Europe’s ATM modernisation programme.

Mr Ky is the recipient of The Glen A. Gilbert Memorial Award of the Air Traffic Controllers Association as a recognition of his achievements in the field of aviation and for being an advocate of innovation and change in air traffic control. In 2015, he was designated “Industry Leader of the Year” by the German publication Fliegermagazin.

Mr Ky is a graduate from Ecole Polytechnique and the Civil Aviation Engineering School in France. He holds degrees in economics from the University of Toulouse and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

About the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore

The mission of the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) is to grow a safe, vibrant air hub and civil aviation system, making a key contribution to Singapore's success.  CAAS' roles are to oversee and promote safety in the aviation industry, develop the air hub and aviation industry, provide air navigation services, provide aviation training for human resource development, and contribute to the development of international civil aviation.

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