Manchester Airport has unveiled a state-of-the-art education centre aimed at inspiring future generations to take up a career in aviation.

AeroZone is expected to welcome more than 5,000 children and young people aged between four and 18 every year, with curriculum-linked sessions focused on the wide range of careers available in aviation.

Cutting-edge design and educational technology will be used to link aviation-related activities to the curriculum at the AeroZone, which offers a mix of classroom space and interactive zones. The design of the centre is influenced by aviation, boasting a cabin with real seats and a cockpit, complete with flight simulator.

A dedicated “careers wall” showcases the wide range of careers available in aviation, and information and advice about how to access them. Airport staff will also appear as guest speakers, giving youngsters the chance to put questions to them.

Greater Manchester’s Mayor Andy Burnham was on hand to mark the opening of AeroZone, which was delivered as part of the airport’s £1bn transformation programme. He was joined by Manchester Airport managing director Karen Smart and 15 pupils from Outwood Primary School in Heald Green, who were then treated to a tour of the new facility.

Smart said: “We are delighted to be able to open this fantastic facility at long last, having originally planned to open it in 2020 before the pandemic made that unviable. AeroZone provides us with an on-site hub for our educational outreach work, and provides schoolchildren in our area with a state-of-the-art facility in which they can learn more about the global gateway on their doorstep, with lessons and materials tailored to the curriculum.

“We are also keen to open youngsters’ eyes to the broad range of career opportunities on offer across our site. We are currently recruiting for hundreds of roles, from security officers to lounge hosts, and the airport will continue to be a key job creator in Manchester over the years to come as we recover from the pandemic, so hopefully this facility will encourage young people to think about the options available to them once they have finished their studies.”

Manchester Airport has worked in partnership with construction firm Laing O’Rourke, lead contractor on its Terminal Two project, to deliver AeroZone. Other partners include Manchester-based design consultants Space Zero; Pascall & Watson, which led on architectural design, construction consultancy IdentityConsult, and IT provider SCC.

AeroZone will form a major part of the education programme at Manchester Airport, as outlined in MAG’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy. The airport operator has committed to ensuring ‘opportunity for all’, with a pledge to support the education of at least 60,000 young people over the next five years.