Tuesday, June 13, 2006


I am sure that a lot of people don’t know that the tiny city-state of Singapore with around 4.5 million residents has more than one Airport. In fact it has several of them. Most visitors to Singapore only know about the one that is called Changi International Airport and is a gateway to this country. Older generation people, who have been to Singapore in the 70’s and 80’s will remember that they used to get in and out of the Country from an Airport called Paya Lebar. Well, that is still there, although not used for civilian flights anymore.

I am located temporarily at another civilian Airport in Singapore called as Seletar Airport. There are some charter and scheduled flights to nearby destinations from this Airport and it also has a small immigration and customs counter. Those of my readers who read my earlier blog called “Fast Jet from Oz” will know that I flew the Premier 1 “sexy jet” (as a pilot magazine has called it) from Sydney to Singapore, alighting at Seletar Airport.

The Airport is located towards the north of the Island of Singapore. As one takes off towards the straits, the Malay Peninsula comes up immediately. The runway and Airport complex is surrounded by two Golf courses; one of them is a public course. At one end, near the terminal is the Seletar Reservoir, a large lake caused by a dam built across a river and this reservoir is one of the primary sources of drinking water to Singapore. The scenery is green and fabulous, in this entire area. I have seen water monitor lizards casually walking across the greens and some of the arterial roads around here as well. Very cool!

The latest news about Seletar is that the Singapore Government has announced that this place is going to be made into an Aerospace hub attracting massive investments, Aircraft hangar and maintenance facilities and creating around 15,000 new technical jobs. Singaporeans are confident that projects that are announced by the Government are taken up expeditiously and this one, with new buildings, new roads, runways extensions, tarmac expansions and many civil works will be completed in two years. Well, I can’t say we can compare with anything in India with this; India’s pace of doing things is pathetic and poor quality to say the least. I have heard that Singapore plans everything 10 years in advance. We in India plan 10 years from now what we needed ten years back. C’mon, everyone knows this, even die-hard, chest beating, flag waving patriots.

Anyway, back to Seletar, there are a few Aircraft Maintenance facilities here at the moment and they are also set to expand. Just yesterday, I came across a small company with vintage Russian AN-2 biplanes and AN-12 cargo Airplanes standing on the tarmac. It seems this company flies around the Indonesian archipelago, collecting fish for import into Singapore. They fly fish in biplanes!! Fantastic, the scope of business and ideas that can come up in the business of aviation. Biplanes, for those who are not initiated into aviation, is an Aircraft that has two sets of wings, mounted parallel to each other. Most of the First World war and earlier warbird were Biplanes. Even Wright Brothers first design, the “Flyer 1” was a Biplane. Monoplanes are what we have in the World today.

Seletar has a bright future, so does Singapore. Wish we had farsighted officers in India who put action into their words and make such facilities for aviation in India. If Mysore can get half of what Seletar is going to get in two years, we should all be having a party to celebrate.


L Venkata Ranga said...

Dear Capt. Anup, The information is provided is really interesting and really good. Even My brother-in-law was saying the same thing. He visits Singapore frequently. Almost four time s a year. He says he is impressed by the civilian projects which they take.

Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Thanks Mr. Ranga for your thoughts. I have spoken to a lot of Singaporeans and since I am here most of the time for the last few months, I am able to see fast they achieve projects. I was talking to a Government contractor here this morning and he said that the Government pays on time every time and no money is exchanged. he also says that penalties must be paid by the contractor is a project is not completed on time. The Seletar Airport project is going to cost millions but it is in their nature to plan and do things so well in advance.

Rahul Gandhi was here last week visiting the PM and Mr. Lee Kwan Yew the person who made Singapore what it is today and I also saw Priyanka and Robert vadra here. When these chaps and many other politicians from india come here and see how Singapore progresses each year, what makes them not replicate some, at least some, of the initiatives that the Government takes here? Rahul's own constituency seems to be in shambles with no electricity and other basic elements that are required for normal living. That should speak volumes.

Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Just saw news online Star of Mysore. Mr. Sudhi would also be interested. The nes is that Mysore may not get an airport after all! Try and read this link: http://starofmysore.com/main.asp?type=news

Scroll down to the news. The AAI is peeved at not getting the additional 20 acres it seems and also the matter about the Ooty Highway. Thats all debatable, whether they had serious intent in the first place or were just making noises to please the public for a while, don't know.

My point about the difference between singapore and India!

Vijendra Rao, the critical outsider said...

That was yet another informative (and, to me, instructional) contribution from Captain.
I only hope the SoM report is not true on this particular occasion (like yet another of its recent reports was. I don't want to trigger another debate; hence the parenthesis. There was this report, alongside a photograph, of a car having gutted accidentally near Lalitha Mahal Palace. The owner of the vehicle was identified in the SoM report as a certain businessman, a Muslim, from Bangalore. The owner of the vehicle was actually Mr. Devanand, a resident of Mysore, and the person who was driving it at that time was his friend, Mr. Pradeep).

Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Thanks Mr. Vijendra. The topic is just heating up with a new item posted on mymysore.com "information" board about the Ooty Road alignment. This actually pertains to the Mysore Airport project that i have written about extensively in my blog previously and letters to the editor of Star of Mysore.

I have put in my thoughts on the subject of the Mysore Airport, on the information board as mentioned above, in more detail and I have made some loud thinking on this as well, some suggestive ones.

Madhukar - VU2MUD said...

Dear Capt. Murthy,
Back after a long break. Good to see the blog getting back to its usual activity.
Point noted on the difference in attitude between the Singapore and Indian policy makers. Me, the flag waving, chest beating Indian knows. We are still trying to get the legal hassels cleared, for the last decade or so, and will take another decade to take decisions, by when Seletar Airport will probably have recovered all the cost involved in the development of the airport.
We will have to wait and watch what decision the govt. will now take. The SOM report was indicating that the AAI was quite firm in their demand for the acquisiton of the additional 20 acres.
Keeping my fingers crossed for some early progress.

Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Good to have you back Mr. Madhukar. we have a problem, that is being discussed on the mymysore forum as well. The problem is the Government/AAI. If we wait, perhaps nothing will happen. Journos at least must take this up and make it a crusade of sorts, on behalf of the general citizenry. Isn't it time to pressurize the officials? Are they not working for us?

As for Seletar, their peceptions of how things need to be done is different. They look at creating infrastructure first and then inviting investment to come in and use the facilities. It is the other way round for us in India and we have to wait it out for people to dish out everything on a platter.

Venkat Ramanan said...

Hello Sir!!
I have mixed emotions while reading about Seletar in particular and Singapore in general! When a country with 4 million residents plans ahead for so many years, a country of billion+ people has not been able to do that, inspite of presence of many visionaries! Then, the only reason could be that, power is in wrong hands and being misused!!! I read a few articles where Lee Kwan Yew has rightly criticised India for neglecting infrastructure.

There seem to be some reforms being carried out now.. But, I think the output will take a long time! But, The plans being drafted for modernisation of Mumbai and Delhi airports are, if any, a welccome break, breaking away from the bureaucracies of AAI and Govt of India!!

Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

You are right Venkat. Privatisation of Airports gets the red brigade all worked up but is is needed in some cases. Local state governments can also take a pro-active approach to develop their regional airports. This is not being done and that is the problem.

Mumbai and Delhi may get better but proper country-wide connectivity can only be ensured when all the regional airports are developed and this can and should be done with local participation. A country of the size of India needs this urgently, if not ten years ago.

Athul said...

Hi sir ,
realy nice to know those facts about singapore and the people attitude .

i just wish if some miracle happens and all the so called politicians stand united for the development of india , then may b we could achive atleast some progress in things .

u had mentioned that there r 2 golf course near the Seletar Airport one civilian ,
well out of curiosity i would like to know about the second golf course , is it too civilian ??

ur comment about rahul gandhis constituency is very true , these politicians after winning the election never look back at their people in there and they stay at the capital in all the comforts , coming back to their constituency for their next elecetion .
its realy pathetic to see all the power misused .

Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Hi Athul,
Thanks for your question. There are two golf courses, one is a public golf course, that means any one from the public can pay a fee and play. The other is a private golf course belonging to the Seletar Country Club and members and their guests may only play. The Seletar Country Club overlooks the Seletar reservoir and is a very secnic place. They have a large open restaurant that is open to the public as well as the members. So, at lunch time, you may find yours truly and many other chaps who work at the various companies nearby, habing lunch and watch the members play. I play golf too, but have not found the time in recent times to actually go out and play and that is unfortunate, my clubs are rusting away.

Vidya said...

Dear Capt. Anup
If you are still in Singapore now, I suggest you walk around the center of now near the Suntec city-Marina shopping malls and the Esplanade. Do note the construction work going on there. The project is for a new underground MRT line. Yes, one or two lanes are closed to traffic, and it gets somewhat congested during peak hours, but you'll be interested to know that not for a single day was traffic stopped. The rerouting and introdction of more one-way streets was implemented quite smoothly. Contrast this with the chaos of the flyover projects in Bangalore, or the Bangalore Mysore express highway work and planning. If you are still around, do ask that contractor to point out a few more such projects where inconvenience to the general public is rather mild. Also take a look at 'Disabled Access' in most public places.

During the 5 years I have lived in Singapore there has been no shortage of Govt officials from the Central and State levels making 'study' trips. Isn't one tempted to put them to a practical test just to prove what they 'studied' at public expense?

And yes, do contrast the immigration at Changi and Bangalore International airports too... and contrast too how people are treated at the Immigration Department in Singapore and at the Indian High Commission there.

Anonymous said...

Dear Captian
Its been sometime since I blogged.Actually now a days Mysore airports news keeps flashing on media maily for wrong reasons.
Check this news item from Hindu-http://www.hindu.com/2006/06/19/stories/2006061907540500.htm
It seems non availibility a operation airport seems to be one of the reasons for not granting permission for Infosys SEZ in the city.
Earlier Mysore lost the race to Hyderabad with regard to Fab City for the same reasons.
Ultimately who is losing out? -the people of Mysore.
Well, we should realise that whatever was considered luxury few decades back has become a necessity now, be it telephone, air travel etc.

Vijendra Rao, the critical outsider said...

I once yielded to such a temptation as putting the man who had returned from his away trip to the test that Mrs. Vidya has suggested. I have recorded the test results elsewhere, but it bears repetition.
It was in 1983-84. Bangalore had a first citizen that answered to the name Sunder Raj. He was inspired, like any other public personality who is bitten by the study-bug, to visit the global mayors' conference to be held in Moscow. My confidence in this man picking up anything from the study tour was so low that I started attacking him with questions even before his trip. I was even gripped by the fear that the Worshipful Mayor might bring disrepute to the city because he was ill equipped to embark on a phoren tour. But, he showed me that he was not. He flaunted the new visiting cards, made of sandalwood, he had got for himself. He had even got some expensive suit, deciding to shed his "panche" and "angi". To escape my pestilence, he said he pleaded to be spared on the cnodition that he would answer my queries on his return.
The answer he gave me post-Moscow was that he was late for the conference because he did not get foreign exchange in time. He was there just for the final day's proceedings. Because he did not have the benefit of interpretor, he did not follow the deliberations.
To ensure that his trip did not go waste he had made brief visits to Scotland and Paris, too. I was to write later that there must be something more to his choice of cities known respectively for vodka, scotch and champagne.

Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Dear Mrs. Vidya, thank you for your kind comment. You are right, my wife and I have been walking around the area that you mentioned and have noted how things work and how fast they work too. Same goes for the new MRT station that they are putting now near Holland Village shopping center. We have lived in the US and a few other places abroad (nothing like rural Japan, though!)too but there are many places in the US that don't have the transportation and infrastructure that Singapore has. can't compare any city in India with Sing.

I have come home for four days and will be back in Sing, in LA during first week of june and then back to Sing till end August. Coming in through bangalore was a nightmare and it took one hour of driving from Airport to Mysore Road near Kengeri and they tell me that I was lucky! The dust, half finished flyovers, bad roads, vehicular pollution and you know what I mean! One of the many things we like in Singapore is that you could get off Raffles City MRT station, shop around Raffles City area and on rainy days, go back underground to the City Link Mall that runs underground all the way to SunTec mall on one hand and the Esplanade at the other. It is a nice long underground mall as well, as you know.

There's no such equivalent of the esplanade in India. For those who have not been to Sing, the Esplanade is like the Opera House in Sydney and hosts performances all the time. I was fortunate to be able to go see an Amercian Broadway musical "West Side Story" performed by the American cast members at the Esplanade. The inside area has art work gallery, library, cafe's, sit out area near the waterfront. The seating in the theatre is like an old opera house and they even had Chinese sub itles running on the side for thebenefit of non-english speaking Singapore Chinese. The sound quality, lighting and moving props on stage were marvelous. Our theatres are a poor comparison and badly maintained. Our Art gallery (Jagan Mohan Palace) suffers from seepage, rotting roof beams, falling plaster and the auditorium also looks like it is going to fall apart soon. The Esplanade also has unique architecture to it and since it somewhat visually resembles that famous stnking fruit of South Asia, it is also called fondly as the "Durian". I used to travel to Sing once a year but almost everyyear I saw changes in Singapore. thats how fast they work. In the last few months they have upgraded Changi Airport Terminal 2 without people even noticing it. The locals told me that they were also surprised to see the upgraded terminal and apparently they did the work section by section, without a single disruption to passenger and Aircraft movement, matter of fact, as I mentioned, even the locals did not observe that this work was going on! Can't contrast anything with Bangalore and I am afraid, Mysore too following the Bangalore way. There's not one decent road in Mysore these days, well when have there been decent roads to begin with?

Thanks for your observations and please keep your comments coming. I do enjoy the Japan stories that you write about and please keep them going. Thanks very much.

Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Thanks Sudhi for your comments. I agree with your observations. We are debating that subject on mymysore.com on the information forum titled "Ooty Road re-alignment" the topic is mostly about the Mysore Airport fiasco.

I could not open the link that you provided but again you are right, this Airport project is making all the wrong news and this is also affording fodder to a group of people called ACICM (Association of Ceoncerned and Informed Citizens) whose Convenor makes all the wrong noises, completely misinforms the public too, while doing so. We have poliicians on one hand to contend with, and on the other we have so called Citizens groups like ACICM who should be more pro-active by giving "informed" statement instead of hot air.

Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Mr. Vijendra, typical of this guy Sundar raj. All our politicians do the same through the years, shed their panches and wear pants, go on extensive foreign jaunts, shop like crazy and come back and do nothing. Who pays for their trip? In the end it is you and me.

Colin said...

Thanks Capt Anup for such an excellent description on Seletar.

I have been trained there for basic flying and throughly miss the small airport and it's beautiful surrounding especially the canteen opposite near to Pax terminal.

Will be keen to meet up with you one day and know more about your job flying ferry flts.

Take care from Colin

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Hi Colin,
Thanks for your comment. I had problems with the comments page and took time for it to re-set. Also, I rarely go back to my old blogs and read comments. Anyway, I am glad you liked what I wrote. Yes, if you are in Singapore, maybe you could drop in on me sometime. That will be good. Good to know you trained at Seletar. Where are you working now?

Colin said...

Hello Capt Anup,

Sorry for the late reply, I am currently with SIA as a First Officer on the 744 fleet.

Yesterday, I just went into Hawker Pacific for a quick visit viewing some light jets and prop planes under the escort of Mr Lee Manager of RSFC when he went over to speak to an Engineer about his club's plane.

Do you have an email where I can correspond to you?

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Hi Colin,
It was difficult to locate your comment that came in, please wite to me next on my latest blog post (does not matter if it has nothing to do with the artile), makes it easier to locate. Thanks. I can be reached at captanup.murthy@gmail.com
Write to me anytime. We are located near Hawker Pacific and my jet is in the hangar there now.

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