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Helicopter careers in focus for aviation engineering students

Thirty two 1st year aviation engineering students from City College Norwich had a chance to learn more about their future career opportunities, and to network with employers, at the new Aviation Skills Partnership (ASP) Learning & Skills Zone at Helitech International expo and conference at Excel London.

The group visited the helicopter industry event on Wednesday 7th October and made the most of this fantastic opportunity to learn from exhibitors about the wide range of exciting careers within the industry.

As part of their visit and through ASP's new Learning & Skills Zone feature - the first at any aviation show worldwide - the students were given an overview of the helicopter sector and the opportunities within it by Simon Witts, Chief Executive of the Aviation Skills Partnership and his team.  The students also heard from those working within the industry about the different pathways to becoming a helicopter pilot and to working in rotary engineering roles.

There were also opportunities for the students to inspect some of the latest models from helicopter manufacturers up close, including VIP helicopters costing up to £10m. 

The visit to the expo, which is the largest of its kind in Europe, was highly relevant to the students’ current training and future career aspirations.  Successful completion of their next 2 years at college will not only give them level 2 and level 3 qualifications in aviation engineering, but a Category A European Aviation Safety Agency licence (delivered in conjunction with KLM UK Engineering).

Students will then have the option of going directly into employment or developing their skills further with the planned new Norwich International Airport Aviation Academy, where they will be able to undertake apprenticeships with KLM UK Engineering or progress through to higher education via a new and unique, soon-to-be-launched aviation engineering degree within a live aircraft emulation zone.

Aviation engineering student Troy Douglas-Collow, 18, from Bungay, who eventually wants to work become a helicopter pilot, said the after visit to Helitch International:

“It was interesting seeing all of the different businesses there and how it all fits in together.  There’s so many different things you can do with helicopters, like the engines, the piloting, the sale management, and all of their new concepts as well.  It was good for me because it helped to build a picture of what I want to do in the future.”

Fellow student Sam Stoddart, 16, from Horsford, added:
“It was good to see what is coming through and do some networking, find out about some companies that you might not have heard of before that do quite a lot of maintenance and so on – and we got to look at some nice helicopters.”   

Stuart Mackay, aviation engineering lecturer, City College Norwich, commented:

“Our students were privileged to have this opportunity to visit the Helitch International conference, which is primarily a business to business event.  It gave them the chance to deepen their understanding of the industry and of the career paths available to them within it. 

“The aviation engineering course is very demanding, but this experience has shown the students the many opportunities that are available to them at the end of it.  With so many helicopter operations on our doorstep, linked to North Sea oil and gas operations, wind farms, power line inspections, and services such as the air ambulance, it is invaluable for our students to meet employers and find out exactly what they need to do get into these careers.”