Lapangan Terbang Seletar
(Shí Lǐ Dá Jīchǎng)
|IATA: XSP – ICAO: WSSL|
|Airport type||Civilian public usage|
|Owner||Government of Singapore|
|Operator||Changi Airport Group|
|Elevation AMSL||11 m / 36 ft|
Seletar Airport (IATA: XSP, ICAO: WSSL) is a civilian airport located at Seletar, in the northeastern region of Singapore, and is managed by the Changi Airport Group. Originally, the airport was completed in 1928 as a flying Royal Air Force station (RAF Seletar) and was also Singapore's first international airport.
There had been a proposal to extend its runway to 2,000 metres (6,600 ft), so as to be able to receive the Boeing 737 used by many budget airlines. However, after considerations by the Singapore Government and the CAAS, they decided to build a Budget Terminal in Singapore Changi Airport instead.
RAF Seletar was a Royal Air Force station in Singapore between 1928 and 1971. Plans for establishing an airfield, flying boat and naval base in Singapore were first agreed by the RAF in 1921. In 1923, two sites in the northern region of the island were approved. The first planes to arrive at the base were four Supermarine Southampton seaplanes on 28 February 1928.
RAF Seletar served as a civil airport from 1930 before the opening of Singapore's first civil airport at Kallang on 12 June 1937 (to the late 1940s).
The air base was briefly host to Amy Johnson during May 1930 on her UK – Australia flight in her Gipsy Moth named 'Jason', and also to Amelia Earhart during June 1937 on her world flight attempt in her Lockheed 10 Electra.
With the threat of war in the area, the RAF started building up their forces in the Far East in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Seletar airfield was the target of carpet bombing when Japanese navy bombers conducted the first air raid on Singapore, sometime after their ground forces invaded Kota Bahru. It was abandoned when the Japanese took Johore Bahru, which brought their artillery in range of the airfield.
When the Japanese launched their invasion of Malaya and Singapore, Seletar housed the RAF’s 205 Sqn with PBY Catalina flying boats and 36 and 100 Sqns with obsolete Vickers Vildebeest torpedo bombers (including five Fairey Albacores acquired by 36 Sqn to supplement its Vildebeests), along with 151 Maintenance Unit. These units stayed until Jan–Feb 1942, soon before the surrender to the invading Japanese.
During the Japanese occupation, Seletar as was in the case of Sembawang came under the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service while Tengah fell under the jurisdiction of the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force. From 1942 through 1945, a number of IJN squadrons were based or transited through Seletar mainly, for training. Among the units known to be based at Seletar during this time were 936th Kōkūtai (B5N Kate, D3A Val and E13A1 Jake), 381st Kōkūtai (A6M Zero and J2M Raiden). The 601th Kōkūtai was also stationed there for training in early before its destruction on board Japanese aircraft carriers during the Battle of Philippine Sea (Marianas Turkey Shoot) in June. Seletar’s present runway was built during the Japanese Occupation.
After World War II, the base went back to the RAF and, in the late 1940s and 1950s, the base was heavily involved in the Malayan Emergency, with Beaufighters, Spitfires and Mosquitos based there while operating against Malayan Communist insurgents. Among the many squadrons based there during this time were Nos 60, 81 and 205 Sqns of the RAF. The base was also the home of 390 MU – the Maintenance Base for the whole of the Far East Air Force.
During the 1960s, RAF Seletar was home base to No's 103 and 110 Squadrons, both of which were equipped with Westland Whirlwind Mk 10 helicopters and to 34 Squadron, which was equipped with Blackburn Beverleys. All three Squadrons (among several others) were involved with support of operations in North Borneo during the Indonesia-Malaysia confrontation. From June 1962, 66 Squadron (led by Sqn Leader Gray) with their Bristol 192 Belvedere helicopters were also based at Seletar, and were sent on frequent tours and detachments to Kuching, Brunei, Labuan and Butterworth as part of the Borneo hearts and minds campaign (the squadron was later disbanded in March 1969). The helicopter squadrons provided a search and rescue service for the Singapore area. The station was also, at that time, home to 209 Squadron, equipped with Single and Twin Pioneer aircraft. 65 Squadron based at Seletar operated Bloodhound Mk II surface-to-air missiles as anti-aircraft defence from 1 January 1964 until the squadron was disbanded on 30 March 1970 with the equipment and role handed over to 170 Squadron, Republic of Singapore Air Force. Auster aircraft were flown during the Emergency and Confrontation periods in troop/enemy spotting patrols.
In December 1966, three Andover CC Mk1 arrived to replace the ageing Vickers Valetta C1 aircraft of 52 Sqn. 52 Squadron was later reformed in March 1967 after the arrival of a further three aircraft. By now, Confrontation had finished and with no purpose the squadron moved to Changi in 1968 before being disbanded in January 1970.
|A 1958 photo of RAF Seletar's main entrance/gate|
|Last off the production line, Sunderland Mark V SZ572 "M" of 205 Sqn being scrapped prematurely at Seletar on 24 July 1958 due to a ground handling accident which broke its back|
The RAF station closed at the end of March 1971 (see East of Suez) and Seletar was handed over to the Singapore Air Defence Command (SADC), which by 1973, after the British pullout, became the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF).
Among Seletar’s claim to fame was that several classic aircraft type flew their last RAF Operational sorties from there including the Short Singapore flying boat (Mk.III K6912 of No. 205 Squadron RAF 14 October 1941, aircraft transferred to No. 5 Squadron RNZAF), Supermarine Spitfire (PR.XIX PS888 of 81 Sqn 1954), De Havilland Mosquito (PR.34 RG314 of 81 Sqn 1955), Short Sunderland flying boat (GR.5 ML797 "P" of 205 Sqn, 15 May 1959) and Bristol Beaufighter (TT.X RD761 Station Flight 1960). The Short Sunderland flying boats started in RAF service from Seletar on 22 June 1938 with 230 Sqn, a sister squadron of 205 Sqn.
The formative years of the SADC (later the RSAF) was established at Seletar Airbase in September 1968, with the setting up of the Flying Training School (FTS) utilising three Cessna 172G/H on loan from the Singapore Flying Club. The subsequent arrival of eight new Cessna 172Ks in May 1969, took over the duty from the former and contributed to the increase of training tempo for more selected trainees to participate in the basic flight-training course.
Seletar Airport now operates as a general aviation airport, mainly for chartered flights and training purposes. Currently, the airport is open 24 hours a day, has a single runway with 27 aircraft stands, has 100 square metres of warehouse space and can handle 840 tons of freight per day. In 1998, the airport recorded receiving a total of 7,945 scheduled flights, handled 23,919 passengers and 6,025 tons of cargo.
The airport fire service, AES Seletar, is provided by Changi Airport Group. AES Seletar has 1 station housing 6 apparatus (water tender, foam tender and others) and provides Level 7 protection.
The Republic of Singapore Flying Club, Seletar Flying Club and Singapore Flying College are situated at Seletar Airport. The Singapore Flying College also conducts its flying training at Jandakot Airport in Perth, Western Australia and at Sunshine Coast Airport in Maroochydore, Queensland. Another prominent flying school is the Singapore Youth Flying Club, which has its headquarters built on western side of the airport's runway. Completed in June 2001, the clubhouse also has its own parking bays for its fleet of Piper Warrior II, CT-4E and Diamond DA40. Also, the rotary training unit of Republic Singapore Air Force – 124 Squadron, has a training detachment at the civilian airport although it is normally headquartered at Sembawang Air Base.
In 2007, JTC Corporation announced the plan to upgrade the Seletar Airport to support the upcoming Seletar Aerospace Park. The plan included lengthening the airport's runway to 1,800 metres and the upgrading of its avionics systems to allow bigger aircraft to land and take off. Changi Airport Group took over the management of the airport from the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore on 1 July 2009.
The airport will undergo refurbishment in 2015 as part of plans to relieve pressure on Changi Airport. The plan is to optimise its capacity and move smaller and slower aircraft to the airport.
Given the recent requirements to engage a ground handling agent for operations at the airport, the application and enforcement of very strict rules that would normally apply to large-scale aircraft and the aforementioned refurbishment plans, the airport management's and Singapore's commitment to supporting and accepting the small private and leisure operators' light aircraft General Aviation segment has often been called into question.
|Airmark Aviation||Charter: Batam|
Vickers Vildebeest Mk IIs, K2918 and K2921, of 'A' Flight, No. 100 (TB) Squadron, at RAF Seletar.
Catalina I of 205 Sqn undergoing servicing in their hangar at RAF Seletar. One of the squadron's Short Singapore Mk III biplane flying boats can be seen in the right background.
A 205 Sqn Short Sunderland Mark V ML797 "P" at the ramp of RAF Seletar, this particular airframe became the last of its type to retire from active RAF service on 30 June 1959.