PLANS to forge a new generation of world class engineers in the North-East have been given a £1.7m boost.
The region’s only aviation academy will be able to start work on a £3.2m expansion after getting the green light for extra funding from regional development agency One NorthEast.
The Newcastle Aviation Academy was opened four years ago with £1.7m and now plans to spend nearly twice as much again for a big expansion which will enable it to take on more students and improve the college facilities.
Margaret Fay, One NorthEast chairman, said: “This project has been a successful collaboration between education and business, providing a worldwide showcase for the standard of training we can achieve here.
“Offering aviation engineering skills will provide learners with transferable generic engineering knowledge that can be shifted to other engineering careers, which will be a tremendous skills boost for the North-East.”
The current Aviation Academy is based between two sites, an Aeronautical Engineering workshop at Newcastle College and an aircraft hangar in Newcastle International Airport, which has a fully functional Boeing 737 jet plane on site.
The expansion will create a regional facility and ‘one stop shop’ for aviation training as well as a further 1,500sqm of training space, which will include an additional hangar for refurbishment. This will enable Newcastle College to relocate all aviation training from the Ryehill Campus, creating additional space there for process industry study.
Work will start on the expansion after the application for £1.69m worth of investment from One NorthEast was successful. The Learning and Skills Council North East and Newcastle College also gave funding.
The Academy is currently working at full capacity for students getting a Foundation Degree in Aeronautical Engineering in the region. They can also progress to Kingston University in Surrey to complete a BSc Hons Degree.
The qualification carries students from GCSE to first and national diploma through to foundation degree, developing a centre of international standing in the aviation industry.
The academy has proved to be a great success with 93% of graduates finding employment in the aviation industry.
This comes as the Civil Aviation Authority says that licensed engineers are on the decrease as the average age of the workforce rises and jobs go abroad. Newcastle International Airport’s Chief Executive Dave Laws, said: “Demand for air travel in the region continues to grow and it is important that the local skills base is developed and diversified to support the continued expansion of air services.”