A new facility at Birmingham Airport aimed at making science and technology more attractive to children has been launched by Business Secretary Vince Cable.

The Flight School in the airport’s former viewing gallery will be used as a teaching space using the latest technology while overlooking the main runway.

The project has been supported by Small Heath School and businesses in the aviation sector, including Goodrich and Bromford Industries, which have provided models of aircraft engines and other practical tools to learn about engineering and aviation.

Mr Cable said: “This flight centre is an excellent example of business working alongside local schools and colleges to give young people hands-on access to activities that illustrate the practical application of science and technology.

“The centre will help to stimulate interest and encourage the take up of the high level skills UK businesses need to succeed.

“It is encouraging a younger generation to understand the importance of engineering and manufacturing and the skills they need.

“Birmingham Airport is dealing with a lot of local communities and developing the habits they need in business.

“We are trying to deal with a skills shortages. We have got a chronic shortage of engineers.

“Supporting Birmingham Airport to keep up British infrastructure and to encourage children to want to enter manufacturing and to equip them to go into engineering and the skills for work.”

Mr Cable added: “Birmingham Airport is under utilised, partly because British Airways shifted some operations to London because they thought they could expand at Heathrow, but they could not. That was a mistake.

“There is a lot of business demand. Birmingham Airport is trying to do what it can. The government has paid some money through the regional growth fund to extend the runway.”

Birmingham Airport said it had invested in excess of £50,000 in the new educational space.

Pete Slough, head teacher of Small Heath School, said: “Small Heath School has been a leading light in the development of the idea that education should be extended beyond the classroom to take full advantage of opportunities provided by partnerships with business and industry, helping to produce better qualified, more socially aware and more rounded individuals.

"Working closely with Birmingham Airport has helped us achieve our goals.”