Students in Manassas could soon be taking flight

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A rendering of what the Manassas Airport terminal could look like after an expansion for commercial passenger service. (InsideNoVa/Avports)
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With commercial flights cleared for takeoff at Manassas Regional Airport, the city hopes to soon launch an academy for students interested in aviation careers.

Chris Taylor, director of Career and Technical Education for Manassas City Public Schools, introduced a plan for an aviation CTE program working with the Manassas Regional Airport during a school board meeting earlier this month.

With commercial flights cleared for takeoff at Manassas Regional Airport, the city hopes to soon launch an academy for students interested in aviation careers.

“It fits with the vision of Manassas City Public Schools, as graduates will be prepared to maximize their potential as a member of the global community,” Taylor said.

Taylor met with airport director Juan Rivera to discuss the possibility of a partnership. After that meeting, Rivera spearheaded a CTE aviation committee in the fall of 2021.

Since then, the committee has met to identify the needs of businesses and the school systems. Collectively, the committee hosted an aviation career day in fall of 2022, where 38 self-selected students participated.

The students, from Metz Middle School and Osbourn High School, represented seventh through 12th grades. And all expressed interest in aviation after attending.

According to a post-event survey, 50% of participating students were interested in a career as a pilot, 39.5% were interested in airport security and 26.3% were interested in aviation mechanics.

The school system presented the possibilities for an aviation program for students to the Manassas Regional Airport board in June of 2022, and the committee recently met to begin putting a formal plan in place.

“I am very proud of the fact that we’ve made very conscientious, purposeful and very strategic planning, discussions and meetings,” Taylor said. “If we’re going to do this, I want to do it well. I don’t want to race through this and do the haphazard of something that we can’t sustain that doesn’t benefit our students.

Currently, the plan calls to roll out the program for eighth graders for the 2025-2026 school year, with the first class offered being aviation maintenance. The second phase of the program would be flight operations and the third phase would be aerospace engineering, with full implementation for the 2028-2029 school year.

“This is definitely a phased-in approach. It is on a great progression forward, we meet regularly, and it’s a collective effort,” Taylor said.

For the program, the committee is looking to have a 10,000-square-foot hangar that would include office space to accommodate a classroom setting, the layout being inspired by Denbigh High School’s Aviation Academy in Newport News.

Taylor added that the committee is looking to fund the program through donors, business partners and federal grants offered through the Federal Aviation Administration, with many of the potential partnering businesses and donors the committee has spoken to over the last few years having seemed supportive of supporting the future workforce.

“We have a phenomenal resource here at the airport,” she said. “And I feel like the potential for us to be true partners with our aviation community is right at our fingertips.”

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