Leading figures from the aircraft engineering sector today marked the launch of the Newcastle Aviation Academy at a special ceremony. They joined Minister of State for Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education Alan Johnson when he jetted in to officially open the Academy. Almost 150 guests saw Mr Johnson cut the ribbon at the institution, which accepted its first intake of students last September.
The Academy is a partnership between the University, Newcastle Airport, the City of Bristol College and Newcastle College. As a key player in the project, Kingstonâ€™s School of Engineering was awarded Â£1.8 million by regional development agency One NorthEast to refurbish a hangar at Newcastle Airport and buy a Boeing 737. Almost 30 students have already enrolled on Kingstonâ€™s Foundation Degree in Aircraft Engineering at the Academy. Employees from 18 different airlines have signed up for the programme.
Mr Johnson was given a guided tour of the facilities at the opening before meeting staff, students and representatives from each partner institution. He praised the Academyâ€™s role in meeting the needs of the aviation industry. â€œThe collaboration is a shining example of what can be achieved if universities and further education colleges work closely with employers and regional development agencies,â€ he said. â€œThe Newcastle Aviation Academy will ensure there is a steady supply of highly skilled people to meet the needs of both the regional and national economy. By offering Kingston Universityâ€™s Foundation Degree in Aircraft Engineering, it will build a world-class aviation engineering workforce.â€
The Universityâ€™s Pro Vice-Chancellor for Enterprise, Professor Andrew Self, welcomed Mr Johnson to the Academy. â€œWe now have an exciting opportunity to offer students in the North East the chance to complete Kingstonâ€™s Foundation Degree in Aircraft Engineering and obtain a licence under the approval of the City of Bristol College,â€ Professor Self said. â€œAfter further airline experience, graduates will be able to sign off aircraft as safe for flight. This will have a tremendous impact on the aviation industry because it will provide the skilled workforce needed to meet the growing demand for air travel.â€ The Degree is accredited by the Royal Aeronautical Society and Kingston is recognised by the Institute of Transport Management as a European centre of excellence in aircraft engineering and training.
Head of the Aviation Academy Jeff Watson said its top-of-the range teaching and workshop areas were guaranteed to provide students with access to high quality training. â€œIt is a superb facility and is unique in the north of England. Our base at Newcastle Airport gives students the best possible opportunity to fulfil their career ambitions,â€ he said.
The opening of the Academy is an important milestone in the School of Engineeringâ€™s mission to consolidate its position as the leading provider of aviation education and training in Europe. Kingstonâ€™s Foundation Degree in Aircraft Engineering is the first programme to offer students in the United Kingdom the chance to gain JAR-66 B and C licences.