Polytechnic plans aviation maintenance research centre
Government supports city's first centre for aircraft maintenance technology research
Hong Kong's first research centre for aviation maintenance technology is in the planning stage at Polytechnic University.
Academics hope the centre will boost the industry in the city, which has suffered from a lack of fresh talent despite the huge potential provided by the sector's development on the mainland.
Professor Alex Wai Ping-kong, the university's vice-president for research development, said the government had agreed in principle to support the proposal, which will have start-up costs of around HK$100 million and annual expenses of HK$50 million to HK$60 million.
He said government officials supported the idea of seeking funding from the Innovation and Technology Fund for both initial and recurrent spending on the centre. Funding will also come from various partners in the industry, and from clients on individual projects.
Professor Wong Tsun-tat, an aviation specialist at the polytechnic, said: "In Hong Kong, a recruitment exercise for cabin crew could attract a thousand people, but this is not the case for aviation engineering.
"But the potential for demand on the mainland is enormous."
The facilities will be completed in a few years, and will house nearly 100 research and administrative employees, Wai said.
He said he hoped the centre would further the university's efforts to develop a full-fledged degree programme in maintenance technology, and attract more young people to the industry.
"In Hong Kong the problem is that the smartest students study finance," he said. "But that is not a good thing for the future of Hong Kong's economy."
Boeing will send personnel to the centre, to share their expertise in training and technology.
Aviation giants Boeing and Airbus have established maintenance and research partnerships on the mainland. But Polytechnic University's centre will be the first in Hong Kong.
Polytechnic University offers a master's degree in aeronautical engineering, but has yet to secure funding from the University Grants Committee for an undergraduate programme because of low enrolments and high costs.