Students from London South East Colleges’ first cohort of Aerospace and Aviation Engineering courses, based at our Bromley Campus, were given their first full tour of one of London’s most iconic airports this week.

London Biggin Hill Airport is best known for its role in the Battle of Britain during World War II and is a former Royal Air Force (RAF) base. Today, it is a modern, fully operational business aviation airport specialising in charter flights and handling a whole spectrum of traffic from private to business jets and helicopters.

Seven of the new students who began their course last month were treated to a tour of the airport, visiting several employers based on-site. They included Interflight, Bombardier, Castle Air, and Zenith Aviation. They were also shown around the Fire and Rescue Service station.

Andy Patsalides is the Marketing Manager at Biggin Hill and has worked in the business aviation industry for over forty years. He conducted the tour along with Firefighter Gary Stewart and External Affairs Manager Bethany Russell. Andy told the students about the current shortage of trained aircraft engineers and air traffic controllers in the UK and congratulated them on their excellent subject choice. He said: “You have all enrolled into what can be a very lucrative and rewarding career. Highly skilled engineers can earn very good salaries from the outset and are guaranteed lots of job satisfaction.

“Biggin Hill is in the process of expanding and that means it is to become an even larger employer. Almost 1,100 employees currently work at the airport and out of them, approximately 400 are aircraft maintenance engineers.”

Andy went on to tell the students about the airport’s glorious history and showed them the last remaining scramble hut where on-duty Spitfire pilots would be based prior to becoming airborne.

The students were then taken to the Interflight maintenance hangar and introduced to Director of Engineering Lee Sugden. He gave them a demonstration of engine components for the Hawker 800 XP business jet.

Speaking afterwards, student Kai said: “I had a very enlightening experience at Biggin Hill this morning and I would love to come and work here when I’ve completed my Level 3 qualifications. The tour has given me a much clearer idea of what it will be like working on real aircraft, and with the opportunities soon to be on offer through its expansion, my chances of achieving this dream are very real.”

Harkesh Ram, Director of STEM at the College reinforces the importance and support of Biggin Hill Airport and the aerospace employers based there in helping to shape the curriculum and provide new and exciting pathways into aerospace engineering opportunities.

The College is currently working with a number of partners including the London Borough of Bromley, Bombardier and the airport itself, to establish an Aerospace College at Biggin Hill. This initiative will address the chronic shortage of aerospace engineers and the wider skills needs of the aviation industry.

If you think you have what it takes to become an aerospace engineering professional and work within the aviation industry, we’d like to hear from you. We have a great range of courses and apprenticeship opportunities to get you started. Come along to one of our open events.

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