Auburn University plans new aviation center

Auburn University in Alabama is elevating its aviation program by establishing a center that will serve as a focal point for instruction, research and outreach and support the aviation and aerospace industries.

The center will 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 efforts, according to university officials.

“We’re building a more robust, visionary aviation program that creates opportunities for students and fosters economic development in the state,” said Bill Hutto, director of the Auburn University Regional Airport and a member of the aviation faculty in the Harbert College of Business.

Auburn Provost Tim Boosinger named Hutto as director of the center, which will be located at the airport.

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.

“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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