May 8, 2023 - Education

Texas Southern University to get new flight training facility

Illustration of an airport runway shaped like a checkmark.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Texas Southern University will soon have a two-acre training facility at Ellington Airport, expanding the university's aviation program.

Driving the news: Houston City Council voted last week to approve a five-year agreement between the Houston Airport System and the historically Black university to create the facility.

Details: The city airport system will invest up to $5 million, and new training space will include an aircraft hangar, aircraft storage for TSU's eight aircraft, office and classroom space, and a fuel tank.

  • "Construction of the facility is expected to be completed this time next year," Terence Fontaine, TSU's executive director of aviation, tells Axios.
  • Currently, TSU's training space at Ellington Airport is about 2,000 square feet.

The big picture: Fontaine says this is in line with the program's vision of becoming the best aviation school in the country.

  • "Our ambition was to not be the best aviation school in Texas. Our ambition is to become the greatest aviation school in the country," Fontaine says. "We want to be on the same lines as Purdue University and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. And there's absolutely no reason why that can't happen."

What they're saying: "The facility at Ellington Airport continues the illustrious story of Houston's aeronautical history," Mario Diaz, director of aviation for Houston Airports, says in a statement.

  • "More than 100 years ago, farmers watched the U.S. Army carve runways through rice fields so the nation's first pilots could train for World War I. Decades later, NASA chose Ellington Airport to train for the Apollo Lunar landing. Soon, students at Texas Southern University will apply the crucial lessons learned at Ellington Airport to revolutionize the aviation industry."

Background: TSU is one of nine HBCU aviation programs in the country, and more than 500 aviation and aerospace-related companies operate in Houston.

  • Plus: More than 23,000 aerospace and aviation professionals live in the city, per a release from TSU.

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