Soo Soon Teong
“There is definitely a strong trend towards proliferation of BVLOS operations than before. In Singapore, we are now conducting an average of 50 BVLOS flights per week in such a small island state.“
– Soo Soon Teong, ST Engineering
Learn more at: https://www.stengg.com/
Soo Soon Teong, Head of Department UAV Business Unit, ST Engineering Aerospace
What can you tell us about your current position and professional background? And how did you get into drones?
Soo Soon Teong, (ST Engineering): I am currently responsible for ST Engineering’s UAS line of business, overseeing the technology, product and business development for both military and commercial markets. My career started at ST Engineering Aerospace in 1997 as a thermal engineer and undertook my MSc in Air Vehicle Design at Cranfield University (UK) from 1998 to 2000. Since 2009, my responsibilities were focused mainly on the UAS domain, undertaking roles for Senior Business Development Manager, Head of Advanced Systems Department, and Head of the UAS line of business.
Overall, I have over 20 years of aviation experience for both manned and unmanned aircraft related programmes. In 2018, I led the development of DroNet solution which was granted the first Beyond-Visual-Line-of-Sight (BVLOS) permit in Singapore in 2019. Apart from my main work, I am also active in serving as the Convener or work group member to support the development of Technical Reference or Standards related to the UAS domain for the Singapore Standards Council.
What is your perspective on the commercial drone market in the next years?
Soo Soon Teong, (ST Engineering):I can see the good progress of regulations towards Type Certification framework suited for small drones both by the FAA and EASA. This will really reduce the work needed by regulators to perform safety assessment. However, I think there will still be unique requirements from specific country regulators to suit the local environment, social norms and safety design requirements. But in general, there should be a balance of stringent UAS design requirements coupled with flight hours demonstration for the safety validation of the UAS platform.
There is definitely a strong trend towards proliferation of BVLOS operations than before. In Singapore, we are now conducting an average of 50 BVLOS flights per week in such a small island state. We are truly seeing how the leap in trusting the technology can bring tangible benefits to the end users. For example, we have been contracted by the Public Utility Board (PUB) of Singapore to perform monitoring and inspection of 6 reservoirs and we are conducting it via BVLOS operations of multiple UAVs concurrently. This not only save about 5000manhrs per year for PUB but also reduces the amount of carbon emissions from traditional means of using petrol powered boats for the work.
Therefore, I believe the commercial drone market will continue its strong growth supported by more matured technologies and conducive regulatory environment.
Where do you see the Singaporean drone market compared to other countries such as USA, China, or Germany?
Soo Soon Teong, (ST Engineering): Singapore is a very small market relative to the rest of the world. However due to the conducive political and technological environment here, I see the Singapore drone market to be leading in terms of exploring new domains and pushing the regulatory boundaries. Thus, if a drone system has been operationally proven in Singapore, it should be easier to bring to other markets although obviously, the operator still has to get full clearance from the local aviation authority.
In which industry verticals does your company work? And why did you choose this industry vertical(s) and what other markets have high potential for drones from your perspective?
- Courier Services and Warehousing
- Educational, Scientific and Technical Services
- Public Emergency Services
- Safety & Security
Soo Soon Teong, (ST Engineering): We see that the use of UAS has been limited by manual line-of-sight piloting and cannot differentiate our capabilities from the competitors. Thus, our company focus is developing UAS for applications requiring Beyond-Visual-Line-of-Sight (BVLOS) flight operations.
What makes your solution unique to the market? What would you say is your Unique Selling Point?
Soo Soon Teong, (ST Engineering): Our DroNet’s unique selling point is its end-to-end architecture to provide our customers the ability to operate the system by their organic team or if they prefer to have the full service, they can still access the data and analytics through a user-friendly web-based application. Also, we are not tied down by a single UAS model but able to cater different platforms to suit different use cases but controlled by a common Ground Control Station (DroHub).
What do you think will be YOUR biggest challenge in the drone market as a Drone Manufacturer?
Soo Soon Teong, (ST Engineering): Achieving sufficient scale versus the consumer drones to lower our pricing