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ECSU Planning Expansion to Currituck Regional Airport

County transfers Airport Industrial Park Lots To State for use by ECSU

Staff Reports – November 9, 2023

Elizabeth City State University’s Aviation Science Program is growing, and our campus footprint and economic impact in the region will both benefit from this upward trajectory.

For the fall 2023 semester, Aviation Sciences was the most declared major in Viking Land at 250, a 39% increase compared to Fall 2022. That number exceeded the projected growth by 50 students. ECSU’s Aviation Science program expects to experience continued growth in coming years as demand for the aviation workforce, especially airline pilots, remains strong. At least 20,000 pilots are needed every year for the next decade to maintain the growth in the travel industry. The university has bold plans to continue to meet this workforce development demand.

ECSU will soon expand its operations to new facilities at the Currituck County Regional Airport. The flight program has been conducting an increasing amount of training at the airport in recent years, and the university’s goal is to formalize this relationship with Currituck County and airport management.

“Around the country, we are seeing large investments from state and private organizations in aviation programs to spur expansion and support workforce demands,” said Dr. Kuldeep Rawat, Thorpe Endowed Professor & Dean of the School of Science, Aviation, Health, and Technology. “This expansion effort is the first step to expand our reach, work closer with our industry partners, and remain competitive.”

“Currituck County is excited about entering into a partnership with Elizabeth City State University and the addition of another educational opportunity in the county,” said Bob White, Chair of the Currituck County Board of Commissioners.

The expansion to an on-site presence has the potential to spur new partnerships with the College of the Albemarle – Currituck Campus (COA), the Currituck County Public Safety Center, Currituck YMCA, and other partners near the airfield, ECSU officials said.  The ongoing operations of ECSU’s flight program at Elizabeth City Regional Airport, coupled with an expansion plan throughout the region and state, will facilitate meeting the growing demand for the program.

“We have attracted students from all over the state and country.  Expanding our flight operations to additional locations throughout the state while offering top-notch online bachelor’s degrees is our strategy to meet the needs of our region, state, and the aviation industry,” said ECSU Chancellor Dr. Karrie G. Dixon.

ECSU has the only aviation program in the University of North Carolina System and has numerous industry partnerships, including the United Airlines Aviate Program, JetBlue University Gateway ProgramDelta Airlines Propel ProgramPSA Airlines Cadet Program, and AeroX Piedmont Flight Training. In addition, ECSU is 1 of the 42 institutions worldwide to have an Aviation Accreditation Board International (AABI) accredited aviation program. The university has grown its fleet from two planes to a fleet of 14 university owned aircraft and Aviation Science majors can complete their degrees online, allowing students to train at any ECSU-affiliated flight school location.

ECSU’s physical presence at Currituck could begin as early as Spring 2025. ECSU will continue utilizing the Elizabeth City Regional Airport as the center of operations, while the Currituck Regional Airport facility will facilitate program growth and new opportunities.

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