The Airbus Foundation has launched the UK’s first Flying Challenge programme in the hope of motivating 30 Bristol schoolchildren to pursue higher education and, perhaps, a career in aviation.
Over the course of a year, the 13 and 14 year olds from Bristol Metropolitan Academy will be granted unprecedented access to aviation design and test experts at the Airbus site in Filton. They will be mentored by Airbus employees across 20 weekly sessions, which focus on teaching them about flight and the different jobs in aviation and develop vocational skills and practical experience in the workplace.
The Flying Challenge – which has mentored more than 1,400 young people in France, Spain and the US – but never before in the UK – also offers the opportunity to see the workings of other aviation organisations. The students will visit Rolls Royce and Bristol Airport, where they can have a flying lesson.
At the launch event, the students had the chance to meet British medal-winning Olympian Kriss Akabusi and French astronaut Claude Haignere, the first European woman on the International Space Station.
Trevor Higgs, UK Head of Engineering at Airbus, said: “We at Airbus in Filton are proud to be a part of these students’ lives, and look forward to seeing their talents develop over the coming year.”
The Airbus Flying Challenge, ‘Take off for a successful life’, is the Airbus Foundation flagship youth development program. Established in 2011, the program aims to inspire young people to continue their education, find their professional vocation and realise their dreams through mentoring with Airbus Group employee volunteers.
Developed in partnership with the United Way and other local NGOs, the Airbus Flying Challenge also aims to promote Airbus Group values and encourage community engagement among employees as they share their passion and skills.
More than 2,000 students worldwide have taken part in individual or collective mentoring sessions, visits to Airbus sites, workshops, career fairs and, most importantly, the flying experience at the end of the school year.