AU establishing new aviation center - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

AU establishing new aviation center

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AUBURN, AL (WTVM) -

Just last year, Auburn University was considering shutting down it's flight program—one of the oldest in the nation.

That move was stopped after a massive grassroots effort organized by aviation students and alumni came together to save the program.  

Now, the University is announcing plans to expand its aviation program by establishing a center with the intention to serve as a focal point for instruction, research and outreach as support for the aviation and aerospace industries.

The plan is for the center to strengthen academic and research programs, recruit industry to Alabama, improve flight operations and training and collaborate with other colleges and universities, particularly in workforce development.  

The new center will be located at Auburn University Regional Airport.

Bill Hutto, director of the Auburn University Regional Airport and a member of the aviation faculty in the Harbert College of Business, has been named as director of the center by Auburn Provost Tim Boosinger.

"We're building a more robust, visionary aviation program that creates opportunities for students and fosters economic development in the state," said Hutto.

The center will oversee Auburn's flight school and work closely with the Harbert College of Business on the professional flight management and aviation management degree programs. The University plans to give students more opportunities to follow industry trends, changes and priorities and interact with potential employers.

"Auburn will support state leaders in recruiting new aviation and aerospace industry, retaining industry already in Alabama and renewing industry through research and innovation," said Seth Hammett, a member of the new center's steering committee.

Hammett, an experienced pilot and flight instructor, has been a key player in state economic development efforts for many years, both as a former speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives and currently as Gov. Robert Bentley's chief of staff.

The steering committee will provide strategic guidance and is comprised of university, industry and government representatives. In addition to Hammett, it includes former Federal Aviation Administration official John McGraw, who chairs the Auburn Aviation Management Advisory Board and leads regulatory affairs at the National Air Transportation Association. 

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