The $4.75 million UMass Amherst Transportation Center (UMTC), state-of-the-art aviation research and training center officially opened at Westover Municipal Airport in Chicopee with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on April 26. In attendance were Governor Charlie Baker, Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy, U.S. Representative Richard Neal, UMass President Mary Meehan, UMTC Director Michael Knodler, and a number of state and local officials. The aeronautical research capabilities, flight simulator and other features of the facility will help meet critical needs for the future of air transport.
One of the highlights of the 8,500-square-foot UMTC Aeronautical Research and Training Center is a high-fidelity simulator that offers a 360-degree 3D experience of being in an air traffic control tower. The simulator will provide opportunities for advanced aviation research and training programs with military and civilian applications and will serve as the Northeast Region’s training center for individuals pursuing careers in air transport, including the air traffic control. Construction of the facility was completed in 2021, but its full use has been delayed by the pandemic.
“As the industry continues to evolve, this center will provide the next generation of aviation professionals with the best in training and research we can offer and serve as a model for how we can adopt new new technologies to accelerate the creation of new opportunities for employment and innovation,” Baker said.
“This new aviation training center will address a critical workforce need in the air traffic control profession, and bring UMass students and faculty to this dynamic new airfield where future partnerships and research will thrive. “, Knodler said.
The facility was built in part with support from a $5 million grant provided to the university by the Massachusetts Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force (MASS-TF). In addition to the Commonwealth’s financial commitment, the Buehler Foundation provided $500,000 to purchase the simulator.
“By establishing the Center for Aviation Research and Training, the UMass Amherst Transportation Center is training the next generation of aviation scientists, engineers and professionals. We conduct critical research on unoccupied aeronautical and aerial systems. And we engage with society by providing training for air traffic controllers, pilots and airline operators,” Subbaswamy said. “The university continues to be a pioneering discovery to advance the common good and this center will be felt throughout the Commonwealth and beyond. As we celebrate this exciting installation, we witness the power of bringing together state infrastructure funding; academic talent from the university; and continued and growing sponsored research support from Washington.