Work to begin in January on £12m Norwich aviation academy, it is revealed
- Credit: Archant
Work on a pioneering £12m aviation academy at Norwich Airport is expected to begin in January, it has been revealed.
The first students at the 13,000sq ft site, housed in a transformed Second World War air hangar, will begin training in September next year.
The new International Aviation Academy will be the first of its kind in the UK, and is aimed to create jobs and plug a growing aviation engineering skills gap.
Unveiling the finished plans at an event at Norwich Castle last night, Simon Witts, founder and chief executive of the Aviation Skills Partnership, said for the first time in the world, budding engineers would complete training on a working next-generation aircraft.
'Norwich was once the go-to place for aviation, and we want to make it like that again,' he said. 'We want to create the Silicon Valley of aviation training.'
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The vision for the training academy was unveiled in September 2013.
Funding was secured earlier this year through the New Anglia LEP and Norfolk County Council-owned NPS Group, which will become equity partners in the project.
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And now, subject to change-of-use planning permission for the hangar currently used by Anglian Water, construction is months away.
Mike Britch, managing director of NPS Group - which has provided £6.25m of funding from the council - said the project was being viewed as a 30-year investment.
He said: 'We are confident as a business we can make this pay and be a success.
'We are not looking at a huge commercial project as it is more about the benefit to the local economy and the skills shortage in the area.'
The new plans, drawn up by Barron and Smith Architects, are designed to preserve the history of the original hangar, while creating a state-of-the art facility.
'We are stripping the cladding from the outside and taking it back to the original steel structure,' said Barron and Smith managing director, Jon Greenfield. 'Then we're putting a new, modern skin over the top.'
The academy will initially focus on aviation engineering, before expanding its remit to train pilots of the future, as well as to provide training in ground crew operations, air traffic control, cabin crew training, operations and planning.
It will have 20 classrooms, five engineering workshops and a complete live aircraft and helicopter in an emulation zone.
Partners are the city and county councils, Norwich International Airport, KLM UK Engineering, City College Norwich, the University of East Anglia, New Anglia LEP and the Aviation Skills Partnership.
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