A group picture of UL President Kerstin Mey with Tánaiste Micheál Martin and Air Nav CEO Peter Kearney in Dublin Airport Control Tower
UL President Professor Kerstin Mey with AirNav Ireland CEO Dr Peter Kearney and Tánaiste Micheál Martin at the launch Picture: David Curtin
Tuesday, May 30, 2023

An Tánaiste Micheál Martin has launched a new Irish World Aviation Academy that is to be based at University of Limerick and will be a ‘unique asset to aviation’ in Ireland.

The Irish World Aviation Academy (IWAA) is a strategic partnership between UL and AirNav Ireland, the new national air navigation service provider established to manage air traffic control in Irish airspace. The two partners will also work with the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) on key strategic projects for the Academy.

The partnership was launched by the Tánaiste and Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Jack Chambers at an event in the new Air Traffic Control Tower at Dublin Airport.

An Tánaiste Micheál Martin said: “University of Limerick has a long, proud and productive heritage in aviation. This relationship between UL and the aviation sector comes from outstanding cooperation and has given rise to the Irish World Aviation Academy.

“In the ideal completion of the relationship between education and enterprise, Professor Kerstin Mey closes the circle started by founding UL president Dr Ed Walsh and today presents the first industry-led Academy of the future of embedded learning at UL.

“The model is a good one and I know other industries are looking with interest at this collaboration with education as a model for future learning, innovation, and growth. Universities are the birthplace of fresh thinking, innovation and business development, and our economy needs the ideas for the future that emerge from them. I want to commend UL and AirNav Ireland for having the foresight to develop this Academy and I wish them all the best in the future as it develops.”

UL President Professor Kerstin Mey, and AirNav Ireland CEO Dr Peter Kearney said the Academy would build a new force in aviation focused on innovation, learning and capitalising on opportunity.

Professor Mey said the IWAA was a “world first” in both education and aviation in that this is one of the first times a university and a commercial state company had come together to form a new entity to serve the learning, research, and developmental requirements of the sector.

The UL President outlined that the University’s considerable international reach in education and its strong alumnus presence in global aviation sectors, allied with both Air Nav Ireland and IAA’s international profile in both navigation and the commercial sector in which it invests, would make the academy a “huge force” in the future development of the aviation sector.

“This Academy, operated jointly by UL and Air Nav Ireland, will be a flagship for the future of embedded learning in aviation. It will offer executive learning and leadership capability development to senior personnel. It will be a unique asset to the aviation sector in Ireland,” Professor Mey explained.

Professor Mey said the Academy would be based at UL and would also deliver on its educational remit at industry locations worldwide where an outstanding learning experience is delivered through a partnership between key industry professionals, university staff and Air Nav Ireland partnering where relevant with IAA to deliver an “experiential and research-led education”.

Dr Peter Kearney said: “This Academy aligns with AirNav Ireland’s priorities to drive continual improvement and excellence through skills and innovation. It will commence the delivery of a global industry-based formation experience directed at executive and aspiring leaders to gain first-hand knowledge of the whole sector from manufacturing through maintenance to leasing, finance, insurance, and sustainability.

“It will focus too on the career requirements of the Irish aviation sector and on working with industry on key research topics including Sustainable Aviation Fuel and a range of economic performance areas. It will support high skilled aviation jobs delivering high quality graduates ready to meet the challenges and opportunities in aviation in the coming years. This academy is a commitment to the future of aviation in Ireland,” Dr Kearney added.

Minister Jack Chambers said: ‘The launch of the Irish World Aviation Academy today is a welcome collaboration. This partnership by the University of Limerick and AirNav Ireland demonstrates the value of collaboration between education and research institutions and service providers. Ireland has a strong aviation sector and the willingness of all those involved in training, research, and innovation to work together will allow Ireland to maintain its place a world leader in aviation and help the industry meet its goals in the coming years.”

Declan Fitzpatrick, Chief Executive of the IAA, said: “Aviation has served Ireland well and will remain vital for Ireland’s economy into the future. Ireland has an outstanding safety record, and we are respected globally for what we have achieved in aviation in Ireland. But we must not be complacent as new challenges arise.

“We are experiencing new paradigms in aviation, and it is vital that we proactively promote research and innovation to ensure we have the necessary talent and skills for the future opportunities and challenges that aviation will present.”

The event heard that the ambition for the Academy is that it would become a standard requisite in senior employment in the aviation sector and deliver “industry-ready” graduates to help maintain Ireland’s competitiveness as a global aviation hub. UL is “exceptionally well placed” to offer a model of embedded learning in partnership with AirNav Ireland.

Professor Mey said: “The inception of this Academy completes the work started with the founding of UL 50 years ago, when cooperative education was introduced and placements in industry were first accredited. It advances that model to an embedded education approach that affirms the partnership role between industry and university in research-led programme design and delivery.

“There is no better sector in which to launch this concept as Irish aviation, which is itself a model of excellence and innovation. UL is proud to have been part of this success and has built on the rich heritage of Shannon as the place where the Irish aviation story began,” Professor Mey added.