Keith Williams was presented with an honorary doctorate of the University before unveiling the two-storey building on USW’s Treforest campus.
He was also present certificates that count towards European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) engineering licences on behalf of British Airways to the first cohort of graduates under the university’s partnership with the airline.
The opening of the facility marks a major milestone in the unique partnership between British Airways and USW. In 2012 they signed a landmark agreement to combine the technical training of the leading global premium airline with the academic rigour of a BSc honours degree. The partnership gives the airline’s staff the opportunity to develop their skills at the University, while aerospace students are given access to real aircraft as they improve their career prospects by studying for a degree.
This new development houses a second aircraft assembly hangar, a Jet Provost T-Mk 3 military training jet, an aircraft simulator and gas turbine (jet) maintenance workshop. Also included are a simulated aircraft shell riveting area, handtools workshops, welding bay, and clean and dirty composite workshops for specimens and repairs.
Undergraduates on the Aircraft Maintenance Engineering, Aeronautical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering degree courses have access to laboratory space where they can learn about avionics systems, electronics, hydraulics and pneumatics – which are key features of providing a hands-on practical experience for students.
The facility will further strengthen the university’s engineering offering, which provides accredited industry-standard EASA training in aircraft maintenance engineering.
Keith Williams said: “It is with great pleasure that I open this fantastic new facility which will be of benefit to the university, its engineering students, and again, selfishly, British Airways which reaps the benefits of such a well-tutored and practical group of students! We are very proud of our engineering facilities in Wales and look forward to a continued, successful partnership with the University.”
‘The partnership with British Airways shows that this relationship with employers continues to run through our DNA’
“The University of South Wales is proud of its origins: we were founded by industry, for industry, as specialist colleges for engineering and the professions,” said the Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor Julie Lydon.
“The partnership with British Airways shows that this relationship with employers continues to run through our DNA. It is a prime example of how the University is giving graduates the knowhow and experience to flourish in their chosen career. Today’s opening celebration marks not just the strength of our relationship with BA, but is also a strong signal of the potential of the UK’s major universities in the international technology industry, across the sectors.
“With the aerospace market set to grow to more than $60 billion per year, and with Wales and the UK set to play a major role in it, we are delighted to be honouring Mr Williams for his contribution to the industry. As we work together to develop the facility and our partnership as we provide graduates to work on the next generation of aircraft, the skies are the limit.”