Runway renovations pave way for improved flight training, student opportunities
ELIZABETH CITY, NC – Students enrolled in flight education at Elizabeth City State University will soon benefit from a $25 million U.S. Coast Guard grant to restore runways at the Elizabeth City Regional Airport.
The money — included in H.R. 133, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021— will fund repairs and renovations for the airport’s three runways. ECSU shares the space with the Coast Guard, using the airport to train 95 of its current undergraduates. As of now, only one runway is operational. Once all runways are operational, ECSU can train students more safely and efficiently. The project is set to begin this year and will be completed in 2025.
“We are grateful to Sen. Thom Tillis and Reps. David Price and Greg Murphy for their leadership, and for their dedication to northeastern North Carolina,” said Peter Hans, president of the University of North Carolina System. “We also want to thank our partner, the U.S. Coast Guard, for helping steward one of the state’s critical workforce training grounds.”
“A recent report from North Carolina’s Department of Transportation says its airports contribute over $60 billion and over 370,000 jobs to the local economy,” said ECSU Chancellor Karrie G. Dixon. “ECSU is preparing students for high-demand occupations in the aviation industry, which will have a positive economic impact on this region and the state. With this restoration project, ECSU will be able to increase our training capacity, leading to increased certifications, which will in turn increase the graduation rate.”
ECSU launched its aviation science degree in 2002 and is currently training 130 students across four disciplines: flight education, aeronautics and air traffic control, aviation management, and avionics. ECSU is the only university in the state offering a four-year degree in aviation science. A historically black university, ECSU is committed to closing the aviation industry’s diversity gap. Eighteen percent of its aviation students are female, and 60% are from underrepresented groups. The flight education program owns 12 airplanes. ECSU plans to add two aircraft this year.
The Coast Guard is one of ECSU’s trusted collaborators, providing student career pathways through its College Student Pre-Commissioning Initiative. Through CSPI, the Coast Guard offers students professional development while fully funding up to two years of college. ECSU students who meet CSPI requirements become members of the Coast Guard upon graduation and are guaranteed a position in officer candidate school training. These benefits combine with ECSU’s participation in the N.C. Promise program, which provides affordable tuition of $500 per semester for in-state students.