A new aerospace exhibition and education center is open in Mobile, giving teens and adults interested in aerospace careers a place to be inspired, educated and equipped with the knowledge they need to succeed.
Flight Works Alabama is a cooperative effort between the Airbus Foundation, the state of Alabama and a group of educational partners and commercial sponsors. Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said the facility is an investment in the future.
“Aerospace is a premier industry, filled with innovative developments and high-demand jobs, which are sought after by every state,” Ivey said. “Flight Works Alabama will become a hub to explore the opportunities of this industry. As our state continues to grow this sector, we must show Alabamians all the aerospace industry can offer them, today and in the years ahead.”
Airbus Americas Chairman and CEO Jeff Knittel says Flight Works Alabama is a fun way to develop a skilled workforce.
“Success for Airbus, and any company, means we can’t just look at what we’re doing now; we need to look at what we need later — whether it be next year, next decade or the next five decades,” Knittel said. “What Airbus and other companies in our industry need to be successful in the future is a skilled, knowledgeable workforce that is ready for that future. Flight Works Alabama will help us create that workforce in a fun, creative way.”
The 15,000-square-foot aerospace exhibition and education center is at the Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley. Inside features more than 40 high-tech aviation and aerospace exhibits with a heavy emphasis on commercial jet aircraft manufactured at the nearby Airbus U.S. Manufacturing Facility in Mobile.
“We really wanted to get people interested in the aerospace industry,” said Kayley Robinson, Marketing and Communications manager at Flight Works Alabama. “Specifically middle and high school students, because we want them to know there are other opportunities for careers without necessarily having to go through college.”
Motivated high school students can also apply for FlightPath9, a program that includes up to 200 hours of technical and soft skills instruction after school.
“That is for rising seniors,” Robinson said. “When they graduate from the program, they are ready to enter into the aerospace workforce because they have all of the stuff they would need to be qualified.”
In addition to the exhibition space, Flight Works Alabama offers specially designed workshops, classrooms and fabrication areas, providing the educational infrastructure necessary to educate and train potential future aviation workers — from middle-school age to veteran industry professionals — in skills such as 3D printing, sublimation and precision measurements.
“We offer certifications through the National Coalition of Certification Centers,” Robinson said. “People of all ages can come in and register for those, which are nationally recognized. We also offer professional development for teachers.”
Visitors will have the opportunity to fly a virtual Airbus A320 to and from the Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley, take a virtual spacewalk on the International Space Station, design an aircraft’s livery and paint it in a virtual paint shop, and fly a drone inside an outdoor netted aviary. Tours of the Airbus A320 Final Assembly Line are also available.
“Flight Works Alabama truly offers something for everyone,” Robinson said. “Whether you are an aviation enthusiast or have an interest in working in the aerospace industry, we’ve got something for you.”
Teachers and groups can also arrange classes and field trips, participating in hands-on workshops and earning valuable certifications. Businesses and families can also rent the facility for corporate events, birthday parties and other private functions. To learn more, including operating hours, pricing and health restrictions amid the COVID-19 pandemic, visit FlightWorksAlabama.com.