Singapore Flyer

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

The Singapore Flyer is a giant Ferris wheel located in Singapore, constructed in 2005–2008. Described by its operators as an observation wheel, it reaches 42 stories high, with a total height of 165 m (541 ft), making it the tallest Ferris wheel in the world, 5 m (16 ft) taller than the Star of Nanchang and 30 m (98 ft) taller than the London Eye.

Situated on the southeast tip of the Marina Centre reclaimed land, it comprises a 150 m (492 ft) diameter wheel, built over a three-story terminal building which houses shops, bars and restaurants, and offers broad views of the city centre and beyond to about 45 km (28 mi), including the Indonesian islands of Batam and Bintan, as well as Johor, Malaysia.

The final capsule was installed on 2 October 2007, the wheel started rotating on 11 February 2008 and it officially opened to the public on 1 March 2008. Tickets for rides on the first 3 nights were sold out for S$8,888 (US$6,271), an auspicious number in Chinese culture. The grand opening for the Flyer was held on 15 April 2008.

Each of the 28 air-conditioned capsules is capable of holding 28 passengers, and a complete rotation of the wheel takes approximately 37 minutes. Initially rotating in a counter-clockwise direction when viewed from Marina Centre, its direction was changed on 4 August 2008 under the advice of Feng shui masters.


The Singapore Flyer is located near the shore of Singapore's Marina Bay, in an area of Marina Centre known as Marina Promenade.

The Flyer affords great views of the Marina Bay Street Circuit of the Singapore Grand Prix as it is located beside the straight between turns 21 and 22, and near the pit area.


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 wasn't 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%.

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."

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."


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 30 minutes.

The wheel features 28 air-conditioned capsules which, like those of the London Eye, are exo-capsules attached outward of the wheel structure. These offer the advantage of a continuously unobstructed view when the capsule is at the peak, unlike the more common endo-capsule design of most wheels (e.g. Star of Nanchang). 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.

The terminal building on which the wheel sits comprises three floors of commercial space, with an adjacent open air Greek-inspired theatre along the waterfront and complemented by a jetty. The site is fully landscaped, including roof gardens and a recreated rainforest in the terminal's atrium. 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 which opened on 17 April 2010.

Visitors can take a free shuttle bus from City Hall MRT Station, which operates every half-hour to and from the Singapore Flyer.

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


The attraction was expected to draw about 2.5 million visitors in its first year of operation, giving investors a net yield of about 13.4%. About 50% of visitors were expected to be foreign tourists, helping to generate about S$94 million in tourism receipts in its opening year. The expected visitorship figure was deemed ambitious by some however, but the STB and the wheel's investors were upbeat over its long-term prospects.

Adval Brand Group, its master ticketing distributor, guaranteed a minimum of 8 million euros in ticket receipts per year for its investors, which was based on an annual visitorship of 600,000.


The Flyer has suffered several breakdowns:

  • In July 2008 the Flyer was stopped because of a minor fault in the braking system.
  • On 4 December 2008, the wheel was stuck for nearly five hours due to bad weather and some 70 people were stranded.
  • On 23 December 2008, the wheel stopped moving and trapped 173 passengers for about six hours. 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. The wheel re-opened on 26 January 2009 after the Singapore Police received the final safety certification report from the Comformity Assessment Board. 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.
  • At 1 pm 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. Thereafter, the management evacuated the some 200 passengers and stopped the wheel. The Flyer was re-opened on 20 July 2010 at 2 pm after repair works were completed.
Possible successors
  • The 208 m (682 ft) Beijing Great Wheel, under construction since 2007 and originally due to be completed in 2008, went into receivership in 2010.
  • The 185 m (607 ft) Great Dubai Wheel proposed for Dubailand, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, was granted planning permission in 2006 and expected to open in 2009.
  • The 180 m (590 ft) Voyager has been proposed several times for Las Vegas, Nevada.
  • The 176 m (577 ft) Bangkok Eye, to be located near the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok, Thailand, was announced by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration on 13 October 2010, at which time the actual site and means of funding the 30-billion baht project had yet to be decided.
  • The 175 m (574 ft) Great Berlin Wheel was originally scheduled to open in 2008 but the project has since stalled after encountering financial obstacles.
In popular culture
  • 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.


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