Plans for new aviation college at London Biggin Hill


Launch of London Aerospace & Technology College

Plans for a new £12m Aerospace and Technology College at Biggin Hill Airport, in partnership with London South East colleges, are set to become a reality with the Greater London Authority (GLA) providing major funding for the project.

The new college will help address the shortage of aerospace engineers and wider skill needs of the aviation industry by training the next generation of mechanical, electronic and service engineers as well as technicians and ground-crew professionals.

Jules Pipe, London’s deputy mayor for planning, regeneration and skills said: “The Mayor and I are committed to helping Londoners gain the skills that the capital’s businesses need. It’s vital that we tackle the skills gap in the aviation industry and the London Aerospace and Technology College at Biggin Hill Airport will help keep London at the cutting edge of aviation technology.”

Andrew Walters, chairman, London Biggin Hill added: “We’ve been working closely with the Greater London Authority, the London Borough of Bromley, and London South East Colleges to create a state-of-the-art facility that will give students unique insight into their future careers by training on site at the airport. Following a promise made three years ago, and the introduction of our extended opening hours, I am delighted to see this project come to fruition.”

“As the fastest-growing business aviation airport in the Europe, our focus is on inspiring and training the aerospace industry professionals of tomorrow and we’re delighted that with this investment, our vision can now take flight.”

Corporate Jet Investor asked Andy Patsalides (AP), Marketing Manager of London Biggin Hill Airport the following questions about the college project.

(CJI) When will the first students enter?

(AP) The first student cohort is expected to join in September 2019.

(CJI) Any idea of the number of trainees who will pass through the college?

(AP) Around 250 places will be available initially, expanding to over 750 by 2021/22.

(CJI) Will Biggin Hill replace or complement the training of aeronautical engineers/technicians at other institutions?

(AP) For students considering their educational and career choices at the end of Key Stage 4, this pioneering Aerospace College offers them an exciting new option. Courses will be led by industry experts in a working aircraft environment, and a broad range of technical specialities will be covered. These include routes into Aerospace Engineering, as well as jobs on the ground, including Cabin Crew and Aviation Operations. Providing young people vocational opportunities is of great social and economic value to the borough and the region as a whole, as well as to the students themselves. Being based at London Biggin Hill Airport will give students the unique opportunity to learn while seeing what their future careers might look like, and where they will take them.

(CJI) Why is there a skills shortage?

(AP) In the aviation industry, growing skills shortages are a very real issue across the globe. And, as the industry continues to expand, the demand for highly-skilled professionals accelerates. In 2017, the UK’s aerospace industry grew 9.8% between January and October; at Biggin Hill, the WingX Advance Q4 report revealed that the airport was one of the fastest-growing business aviation airports in Europe, with 16% overall growth for 2017. At Biggin Hill, we are investing in the future of the aviation industry with this new Aerospace and Technology College, ensuring we have the next generation of highly-skilled engineers, technicians and ground crew professionals ready to keep the industry moving forwards.

This project is supported by the Greater London Authority, which has delivered major funding for the college as part of its Skills for Londoners Fund. This investment aims to transform skills provision across London by delivering education and training facilities at Further Education Colleges and other providers.

(CJI) Will the college train engineers who would work on the Spitfires and Hurricanes at Biggin.

(AP) I think the focus on engineering training will be on business and commercial aircraft. The Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar are initiating their own apprentice scheme.