Plane sailing for trainee air crews

7th October 2005 at 01:00
The announcement is familiar to anyone who has ever travelled on a plane:

"Fasten seat belts and prepare for take-off". This time, things are a little different. The drinks trolley may appear down the aisle, cabin crew may also ask passengers to store oversize luggage and there are even sick bags for those who feel the journey may be a little too much.

No one entering the aircraft fuselage at Park Lane college in Leeds should worry too much about air sickness, because this is a mock airliner cabin inside a classroom.

In this project, FE students hoping to work as cabin crew for Britain's airlines are being put through their paces by experienced cabin crew.

The students are given uniforms and taught how to deal with passengers, ticketing, serving food, the drinks trolley and real-life emergencies such as terrorism and unruly passengers.

"We may not be flying anywhere, but at least we get a feel for what it is like and understand what is expected of us if we are lucky enough to get jobs as cabin crew," said one student. The fuselage is at Park Lane college's new pound;9 million academy which was opened by minister for FE and lifelong learning Bill Rammell.

He said he was very impressed with the project, which is part of the academy's travel and tourism department. Students have access to duty free items, catering equipment, safety cards, lifejackets and oxygen masks as aides to help them along.

Since its launch, students have gone on to work for major airlines such as Virgin, easyJet and BMI. The new academy has six floors and offers 60 teaching spaces, a state-of-the-art dance studio and a fully-equipped gym.

Its vocational training programmes include sport, health and social care and creative arts.

The A-level centre, which is within the academy, offers students 28 AS subjects and 25 A2 subjects. There is also the Stepping Stones programme for those taking GCSEs and vocational subjects.

Mr Rammell said: "This academy is superb and it is tremendous that we are seeing such investment in the FE sector.

"Whatever the debates we have about funding and the revenue side,if you look at the capital side this is the type of project that is taking place across the country. "And with the extra pound;350 million capital we have freed up over the next coming period, I think we are going to see more of these facilities.

"I think it is state-of-the-art and it is superb."

Park Lane college principal Tony Longworth said: "This is a wonderful new facility and the realisation of a major capital investment to expand the quality of training and learning we provide."

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