Glasgow will become home to the UK’s first aviation STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) academy, Nicola Sturgeon has announced.

The Newton Flight Academy will be the first full academy outside of Norway when it opens at Glasgow Science Centre in the spring of 2022.

The permanent classroom will be used to teach students aviation-related STEM concepts that will include three full-motion flight simulators.

The state-of-the-art space will be used to deliver immersive, experiential learning programmes that will enable students to engage in real-world challenges by working together with industry professionals, and will include the experience of flying in flight simulators.

It is being made possible through funding from aerospace giant Boeing and is being developed in partnership with First Scandinavia. In 2018, the US company invested more than £3.5 million to set up a network of STEM-focused “Newton Rooms” around Europe.

The programmes, which will be delivered in partnership with the University of Strathclyde, will cover themes including space, biofuels, and advanced materials and manufacturing.

The First Minister revealed plans for the new academy while speaking at the Boeing Innovation Forum at Glasgow Airport yesterday.

During her speech to over 300 delegates from across the aviation and aerospace sectors, Ms Sturgeon said: “Delegates from around the world will start to arrive in Glasgow for Cop26 in a matter of weeks. The summit is the world’s best chance – and possibly one of our last chances – to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. We need to find ways to decarbonise air travel if we are to achieve that goal while rebuilding connectivity, and that needs international collaboration between governments and industry.

“Only by maximising the opportunities in front of us – research and development; inspiring young people to consider STEM careers in Scotland and further afield; and testing out sustainable technologies – can we endeavour to leave a planet that future generations can be proud of.

“Every step is an investment in our young people’s future, and innovations like Boeing’s Glasgow Newton Flight Academy enable young people to join us on this crucial journey and discover the fascinating learning and career opportunities a net-zero society creates.”

The two-day event – which is being co-hosted by Glasgow Airport and Boeing – aims to help prepare the global industry for a more sustainable future.

It brings together partners in Scotland and the broader aviation sector to demonstrate the role that today’s sustainable technologies can play in the future of aviation

The centrepiece is a visit by Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator aircraft. Since 2012, the ecoDemonstrator aircraft programme has accelerated innovation by testing nearly 200 promising technologies to address challenges for airlines, passengers and the environment.

Derek Provan, chief executive of AGS Airports Ltd, which owns and operates Glasgow Airport, said: “We are proud to host the innovation forum in partnership with Boeing and it was a pleasure to welcome the First Minister to Glasgow Airport today.

“This two-day event is about recognising the huge progress the aviation and aerospace sectors have made as we work towards decarbonising what is truly one of the most global industries and looking ahead to what else we can achieve through innovation and partnerships on our collective journey to net zero.”

This year’s plane is a new 737-9 from Alaska Airlines. Among the technologies being tested are an engine nacelle – the casing that houses the engine – designed to reduce noise and cabin sidewalls made from recycled material.

Boeing partnered with ADS, British Airways, Glasgow Airport, Loganair, Menzies Aviation, Scottish Development International, Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise on the forum, and dozens more were represented in the supplier showcase and through panel discussions.

The Boeing Innovation Forum is under the umbrella of the Boeing Scotland Alliance, which was launched in 2020 with Scottish Enterprise. It is designed to explore opportunities to work together in Scotland, to double Boeing’s supply chain and create 200 new quality jobs in five years. On Tuesday, Boeing and the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland opened a new £11.8 million R&D programme next to Glasgow Airport that will explore novel manufacturing technologies for metallic components.

Sir Martin Donnelly, president of Boeing Europe and managing director of Boeing in the UK and Ireland, said: “When we signed the Boeing Scotland Alliance almost two years ago we wanted to work in many locations and sectors, to combine the best of what Boeing can offer with the world-class supply chain, startups, universities and research centres in Scotland.

“This week’s events are a showcase of what we’ve done collectively already, and also what is possible in Scotland and the wider UK when industry, government and academia work collaboratively to create a more sustainable future.”