As the old business adage goes: never waste a good crisis. Of course, the aerospace industry has never seen a crisis quite like the current coronavirus-driven downturn, but for some, that maxim remains as relevant as ever.
Jeffrey Lam, the newly installed president of ST Engineering’s aerospace division, can be counted among that group. While Covid-19 has caused the unit’s business to plunge – at points by up to 90% – he remains unflustered, and instead sees an opportunity in the current situation.
Lam took the reins on 1 October, when his predecessor Lim Serh Ghee was promoted to the role of ST Engineering chief operating officer.
In an interview with FlightGlobal days after assuming his new role, Lam cuts an optimistic figure, despite the gloom surrounding the aviation industry: “A crisis like this offers us opportunities,” he begins, rather setting the tone for the conversation.
“For example, what… are some of the growth and acquisition opportunities? We continue to focus on partnership opportunities, looking for acquisitions, in the right space, at the right time. So we do have active discussions ongoing, for example, [about] some partnership arrangements outside of Singapore. A crisis is an opportunity not to be missed.”
For example, the pandemic has allowed ST Engineering to double down on its smart technology initiatives, such as the use of drones in its work processes.
While the idea of using unmanned air vehicles for MRO operations is not new, the pandemic has given the company “an opportunity to accelerate” their usage, such as for aircraft inspection tasks, says Lam.
But while aerospace is perceived as a high-tech industry, some areas can be resistant to change. Lam admits that the