By Joe Cohen
Standard-Times Staff Writer
NEW BEDFORD — Less than a year after the Delta Connection Academy shut down, Bridgewater State College and the New Bedford Regional Airport formally announced a bigger, better student flight training program to open this fall at the airfield.
At a ceremony in the airport Terminal Building Tuesday morning, college President Dana Mohler-Faria, Mayor Scott W. Lang, Airport Manager Edward DeWitt and others said the pullout of Delta last August turned out to be to their collective advantage.
“It is a win for the college and a win for the city,” Dr. Mohler-Faria said. It marks a “new era of cooperation between the college and the city” and will lead to a premier program and potentially many more collaborative projects.
He said that the college will have more flexibility, be better able to control costs and have a greater ability to “create excellence,” under the new agreement.
Mayor Lang, recounting how his administration had said that 2008 will be the “year of the airport,” said he sees the return of the flight school operations as one piece of many to improve the facility — a “tremendous untapped resource” for the region and “great economic engine for the city.”
He said the college plans a bigger and more modern program than was offered by Delta and it will be the finest in New England and eventually in the country as it provides aircraft and flight training career opportunities to students.
City Councilor David Alves said the flight school adds to the city’s growing list of educational facilities and programs.
“I see New Bedford as a real focal point for education,” he said.
In addition, he said, the program enhances the airport, an important asset the city offers to businesses that bring jobs and investment.
Mr. DeWitt said the program will “transform young men and women from all over the United States” and infuse them with the “magic and passion” of aviation.
The college is scheduled to take over the lease on a city-owned building at the airport June 1. Classes will start with the fall semester. The school is planning to lease 11 aircraft, eight of which will be brand-new basic training planes and three that will be more advanced, complex aircraft.
The college said it expects 150 students in the program this fall. At its height, the Delta Connection Academy had about 190 students.
In addition to direct benefits from returning the flight training program to the airport, there are indirect benefits such as increasing the number of flights at the airport, something used by federal authorities in evaluating support for airfields, officials said.
When the Delta program shut down, students had to find other flight schools. Most continued their training at three airports in eastern Massachusetts, including New Bedford.
Contact Joe Cohen at firstname.lastname@example.org
April 16, 2008
By Joe Cohen