Singapore Flyer

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Coordinates: 1°17′21.83″N 103°51′47.63″E / 1.2893972°N 103.8632306°E / 1.2893972; 103.8632306

The Singapore Flyer
Singapore Flyer Logo.jpg
Singapore Flyer.JPG
General information
Type Ferris wheel
Location Singapore
Construction started 2005[1]
Completed 2008[1]
Opening 11 February 2008 (restricted)[2]
1 March 2008 (soft)
15 April 2008 (official)
Cost S$240 million (US$180 million) (GBP£90 million)
Owner Singapore Flyer Pte Ltd[3]
Height 165 m (541 ft)
Technical details
Floor area 33,700 m2 (362,700 sq ft)
Design and construction
Architect Kisho Kurokawa Architects & Associates, DP Architects
Developer Melchers Project Management[3]
Engineer Arup
Main contractor Mitsubishi - Takenaka Consortium
Other information
Seating capacity 784
Singapore Flyer
Chinese name
Simplified Chinese 新加坡摩天观景轮
Malay name
Malay Pelayang Singapura
Tamil name
Tamil சிங்கப்பூர் ஃப்ளையர்

The Singapore Flyer is a giant Ferris wheel in Singapore. Described by its operators as an observation wheel,[4] it opened in 2008, construction having taken about 2½ years.[1] It carried its first paying passengers on 11 February, opened to the public on 1 March, and was officially opened on 15 April. It has 28 air-conditioned capsules, each able to accommodate 28 passengers, and incorporates a three-storey terminal building.[5]

The Flyer has an overall height of 165 metres (541 ft) and is currently the world's second tallest operational Ferris wheel; after the 167.6 m (550 ft) High Roller, which is 2.6 m (9 ft) taller than the Flyer,[6] located on Las Vegas Strip in Nevada, US, opened on 1st April 2014. [7] The previous record holder, the Star of Nanchang, in Jiangxi, China, is 160 m (525 ft) tall, although its 153 m (502 ft) diameter wheel is larger than the Flyer's 150 m (492 ft) wheel.

Location[edit]

The Flyer is located near the shore of Singapore's Marina Bay, on the southeast tip of the Marina Centre reclaimed land, in an area known as Marina Promenade.[citation needed]

Its location beside Marina Bay Street Circuit, near the straight between turns 21 and 22 and the pit area, affords great views of the Singapore Grand Prix. It also offers broad views of the city centre and beyond to about 45 km (28 mi), including the Indonesian islands of Batam and Bintan, and Johor, Malaysia.[citation needed]

Early history[edit]

The Singapore Flyer was first conceived in the early 2000s by Patrick MacMahon of Melchers Project Management, a subsidiary of German company Melchers. Formal planning commenced in 2002. A new company, Singapore Flyer Pte Ltd, was formed as the developer, with Melchers Project Management holding a 75% stake, and the remainder held by Orient & Pacific Management.

The project was formally announced and endorsed on 27 June 2003 by the Singapore Tourism Board with the signing of a memorandum of understanding, formalising the understanding between the developer and tourism board with regard to the land-acquisition process. Under this agreement, the tourism board was to purchase the plot of land in Marina Centre from the Singapore Land Authority, and lease it to Singapore Flyer Pte Ltd for 30 years with an option to extend the lease by another 15 years. The land was to be rent-free during the construction phase of the project. In July 2003, Jones Lang LaSalle was appointed as the real estate advisor. Takenaka and Mitsubishi were selected as the main contractors, and Arup as the structural engineer.

Early designs showed a 169 m (554 ft) tall wheel similar to the London Eye, drawing criticism that it lacked originality. The developers pointed out that the design was not finalised and was merely for conceptualisation purposes, though the final project changed little from the early designs. Subsequently, the project was to grind almost to a halt when the developer faced difficulties in sourcing funds to build the wheel. Original plans to complete the wheel by the end of 2005 were thus postponed indefinitely, and there were reports (denied by the Singapore Tourism Board) that the tourism board has set an ultimatum date of 31 March 2005 for the developer to iron out its financial issues and to keep the development going.

By September 2005, the project was revived when funds were successfully sourced from two German banks. Collin William Page, a subsidiary of ABN AMRO, was to provide equity to a maximum of S$100 million, with a further S$140 million coming from HypoVereinsbank. With this injection of S$240 million, the largest single foreign investment in the Singaporean entertainment industry, construction was slated to begin by the end of the month. The stakeholders then were AAA Equity Holdings, Melchers Project Management, and Orient & Pacific Management.

In August 2007, Florian Bollen, Singapore Flyer Pte Ltd chairman, raised his stake in the Singapore Flyer from 60% to 90% through acquisition of Melchers Project Management's 30% stake. The deal was done via AAA Equity Holdings, a private investment vehicle headed by Bollen. Orient & Pacific Management, which spearheaded the project development management, owns the remaining 10%.

Design[edit]

The development has a gross building area of approximately 16,000 m2 (172,000 sq ft), built on a 33,700 m2 (362,700 sq ft) site along the Marina Promenade. Designed by Arup and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries with a capacity of up to 7.3 million passengers a year, the normally constant rotation of the wheel means that a complete trip lasts approximately 32 minutes.[8]

Singapore flyer capsule cu.JPG
Singapore flyer capsule inside.JPG
Each of the 28 air-conditioned capsules can carry 28 passengers
Marina Bay, one of the many views from the Flyer's capsules
Tropical rainforest garden

The Flyer's 28 air-conditioned capsules are mounted outboard of the rim of the wheel structure, providing continuously unobstructed views. Each capsule has a floor area of 26 m2 (280 sq ft) and is capable of holding 28 passengers, or up to five wheelchairs and 15 other visitors when booked in advance for use by disabled guests.[9]

The wheel initially rotated in a counter-clockwise direction when viewed from Marina Centre, but on 4 August 2008 this was reversed on the advice of Feng shui masters.[10]

The terminal building comprises three floors of commercial space housing shops, bars, and restaurants, with an adjacent open air Greek-inspired theatre along the waterfront, and complemented by a jetty.[citation needed]

The site is fully landscaped[citation needed] and includes a tropical rainforest garden.[11] An open bus park for 40 buses is located behind the building, and connected by an underpass to a covered multi-storey carpark for 300 vehicles. This carpark in turn has direct links to the underground Promenade MRT station.[citation needed]

Wheelchair ramps and lifts, handicapped toilets, and a dedicated parking lot for the disabled are also provided.[12]

Construction[edit]

The groundbreaking ceremony was held on 27 September 2005, with Mah Bow Tan, Minister for National Development, as guest of honour. The spindle was fitted on 13 December 2006, and the outer rim was completed on 9 April 2007. Installation of the passenger capsules began on 3 August 2007[13] and was completed on 2 October 2007.[1]

Opening[edit]

The Flyer opened in 2008. During Chinese New Year, corporate 'inaugural flights' were held from 11 to 13 February, tickets for which sold out for S$8,888 (US$6,271), an auspicious number in Chinese culture.[4] The first public rides were on Valentine's Day, 14 February, the soft launch on 1 March,[2] and the official opening on 15 April, at which prime minister Lee Hsien Loong was guest of honour.[1][14]

Breakdowns and stoppages[edit]

  • In July 2008 the Flyer was stopped because of a minor fault in the braking system.[15]
  • On 4 December 2008, the wheel was stuck for nearly five hours due to bad weather and some 70 people were stranded.[15]
  • On 23 December 2008, the wheel stopped and trapped 173 passengers for about six hours.[16] The breakdown was caused by a short circuit and fire in the Flyer's wheel control room, which cut off the air-conditioning in the wheel. Eleven passengers were evacuated via a sling-like device from a few of the capsules, and those stranded were given food and drink. The wheel restarted nearly seven hours after it had stopped and two people were hospitalized. The Flyer was closed indefinitely and an investigation into the cause of the malfunction was launched.[15] The wheel re-opened on 26 January 2009 after the Singapore Police received the final safety certification report from the Conformity Assessment Board.[17] Following this breakdown, additional back-up systems costing about S$3 million were installed. These included a generator, winches, three anti-fire and smoke systems, and heat detection devices.[18]
  • On 18 July 2010, the ride was shut after one of its electrical cables supplying power to the air-conditioning systems was struck by lightning, affecting the air-conditioning system. Some 200 passengers had to be evacuated. The Flyer re-opened on 20 July 2010 after repair work was completed.[19]
  • On 20 June 2013, operations were temporarily suspended to protect employees from record-high pollution levels in Singapore, the first time the Flyer had shut due to haze.[20]

Financial difficulties[edit]

In March 2010, Great Wheel Corporation, a consultant for the Singapore Flyer, was one of several companies named in a report alleging embezzlement, lodged with the prosecutor's office in Berlin, Germany. Transfers of €3 million to companies in the Virgin Islands and UK, and monthly payments of €40,000 from the Berlin wheel's project company, Great Berlin Wheel, to its linked company Great Wheel in Singapore, are questioned. A prosecutor's office spokesperson said: "We understand there were false contracts concerning non-existing deals, and these contracts were made to take the money for private concerns."[21]

Florian Bollen is chairman of both Great Wheel Corporation, registered in Singapore as GWC Holdings, and Singapore Flyer Pte Ltd. A spokesperson for the Singapore Flyer said: "The giant observation wheel in Berlin is separate from the Singapore Flyer and it is separately owned and operated. Great Wheel Corporation is also a separate entity from the Singapore Flyer. Any investigations relating to the Berlin wheel and Great Wheel Corporation have no effect on and no relationship with the Singapore Flyer's operations and finances."[21]

On 28 May 2013, the Singapore Flyer announced that it was in receivership. Accounting firm Ferrier Hodgson has been appointed as the receiver and manager of the company's charged assets. Ferrier Hodgson said it is looking into identifying investors to manage and enhance the Singapore Flyer, and will ensure smooth operations at the Flyer throughout the receivership.[22]

In popular culture[edit]

  • The Flyer featured in Big, Bigger, Biggest in an episode first aired in September 2009 which explored the engineering breakthroughs that have made it possible for Ferris wheels to grow ever larger.
  • The Flyer featured in The Amazing Race 16 in 2010 when a team had to climb from one capsule to another, at the top of the wheel, and in The Amazing Race Australia in 2011 when teams had to choose a capsule to find their next clue.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "History & Milestones". Singapore Flyer. 
  2. ^ a b "Singapore Flyer opens to the public from Saturday". Channel NewsAsia. 1 March 2008. 
  3. ^ a b "Development and Operations of Large Scale Visitor Attractions". Melchers Project Management. 
  4. ^ a b World's biggest observation wheel set to spin in Singapore AFP
  5. ^ Collin Anderson (2012). Evolution of a Retail Streetscape: DP Architects on Orchard Road. Images Publishing. ISBN 978-1-86470-462-4. [not in citation given]
  6. ^ High Roller: world's largest Ferris wheel hoisted into place in Las Vegas
  7. ^ Santorelli, Tom. "'World's tallest' Ferris wheel opens in Las Vegas". BBC. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  8. ^ "Fun Facts about the Flyer". Singapore Flyer. 
  9. ^ "Design Concepts". Singapore Flyer. 
  10. ^ "Feng Shui turns this wheel". The Straits Times. Retrieved 14 September 2010. 
  11. ^ "English Brochure". Singapore Flyer. 
  12. ^ "Wheelchair Access - Singapore Flyer". Singaporeflyer.com. 16 December 2007. Retrieved 14 September 2010. 
  13. ^ Singapore Flyer may open to public earlier than scheduled
  14. ^ "PM Lee officially opens Singapore Flyer". Channel NewsAsia. 15 April 2008. 
  15. ^ a b c "Channel NewsAsia - Singapore Flyer to remain closed pending investigations". channel news asia. 23 December 2008. Retrieved 14 September 2010. 
  16. ^ "Dozens trapped on Singapore wheel". BBC News. 23 December 2008. Retrieved 28 December 2008. 
  17. ^ "Channel NewsAsia - Singapore Flyer resumes operation after month-long shutdown". channel news asia. 26 January 2009. Retrieved 14 September 2010. 
  18. ^ "New back-up systems being installed at Singapore Flyer". Channel NewsAsia. 22 January 2009. 
  19. ^ "S'pore Flyer resumes operations after 2-day closure due to air-con glitch". 20 July 2010. 
  20. ^ "Haze update: Singapore Flyer to close temporarily due to haze". The Straits Times. 2013-06-20. Retrieved 2013-06-24. 
  21. ^ a b Firm linked to Flyer under German probe
  22. ^ Singapore Flyer in receivership

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Star of Nanchang
World's tallest Ferris wheel
2008–2014
Succeeded by
High Roller