September 27, 2018
Construction will begin next month on a $35 million Qantas pilot training facility at Wellcamp Airport near Toowoomba.
The complex – one of two planned in regional Australia by Qantas – is expected to open by mid-2019 and will have the capacity to train up to 250 pilots a year.
Accommodation will be provided on site for students.
A Qantas spokesperson said the pilot academy was part of the group’s strategy to build a long-term talent pipeline for its own airlines and help the broader industry meet the increasing need for skilled aviators.
Estimates suggest that 790,000 more pilots will be required globally over the next 20 years with around one-third of them in the Asia-Pacific area.
Alice Springs, Bendigo, Busselton, Dubbo, Launceston, Mackay, Tamworth and Wagga Wagga are under consideration for the second academy site.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said Toowoomba would make a great home for the first Qantas Group Pilot Academy.
“Toowoomba will be an amazing place to learn to fly. It’s home to Australia’s newest airport and offers over 300 days of Queensland sunshine each year and an environment that is textbook for pilot training,” he said.
More than 100 direct jobs and about 300 indirect jobs are expected to be created in the local building industry during the construction phase.
The academy will create ongoing employment for up to 160 people in training and support roles, plus flow-on opportunities for local businesses.
The Qantas Group has appointed L3 Commercial Aviation as the training provider for the Toowoomba site.
L3 has pilot training academies in the UK, Portugal, USA and New Zealand. It will bring a mix of modern single and twin-engine aircraft with glass cockpits to support the training.
Applications for student enrolments will open by the end of this year.
More than 18,000 people have so far registered their interest in the Academy online
Toowoomba mayor Paul Antonio said it was an “incredible opportunity” for the region.
“When fully set up, the academy will bring up to 250 students plus instructors and support staff a year to the region as well as their families,” he said.
“While the academy will be based in Toowoomba, a network of regional airports could be utilised as part of the training program.
“The flow-on effect from this will see a significant boost to our economy and underlines the faith currently being shown in the region.
“In November 2014 the Wagner family commenced operating passenger flights out of the airport and since then the region has gone from strength to strength.
“This important piece of infrastructure is much more than just an airport as it has built a sense of self-belief throughout the community that has paved the way for further investment in the Toowoomba Region.
“I would like to congratulate the Wagner family on today’s announcement.
“The business case put forward by the Wagners was obviously too good to pass on, with the family committing a significant amount of private investment to get the project off the ground, in addition to funding from the State Government.
“Along with the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing and the Inland Rail, this academy cements our region as a significant freight hub for road, rail and air.”
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said it was a “fantastic announcement” by Qantas.
The deal was secured via a partnership between the State Government, Toowoomba Regional Council and Wellcamp Airport with support through the State Government’s Industry Attraction Fund.