Qantas Pilot Academy Formally Opens

The next generation of pilots will learn to fly at the Qantas Group’s new Pilot Academy in Toowoomba, which was officially opened today. 

The Pilot Academy will have the capacity to train up to 250 pilots each year to build a long-term talent pipeline for Qantas, Jetstar and QantasLink and help the broader industry meet the increasing need for skilled aviators.

Boeing estimates more than 800,000 more pilots will be required globally over the next 20 years with around one-third of them in the Asia Pacific.

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce, who was in Toowoomba with Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to inspect the new training facilities and student accommodation, said some of the airline’s future 787 Dreamliner and A380 Captains would be graduates of the Academy. 

“Opening our new Pilot Academy is a historic moment for Qantas, for aviation in Australia and for the thousands of future pilots who will learn how to fly here in Toowoomba,” Mr. Joyce said.

“Qantas Group pilots have a long-held reputation for being amongst the best in the world because of their high standards of training, and that tradition continues with the launch of our own Pilot Academy.  

“Without the Queensland Government and the Wagner Corporation, it would not have been possible to get these world-class training facilities built and open for students so quickly. We thank them for their commitment to the project.” 

The training facilities comprise a 1500 square meter hangar, four flight training simulators, classrooms as well as purpose-built pre-flight briefing and flight scheduling areas. The students are learning to fly in single-engine Diamond DA40 and multi-engine DA42 aircraft.  

The Academy also aims to increase the proportion of female and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pilots in the industry. 

Mr. Joyce said, in its centenary year, Qantas will provide three scholarships for Indigenous students, each valued at $85,000, with future scholarships available for female students and candidates from regional and remote areas. 

“When we announced the academy, we said we wanted to tap into a broader, more diverse talent base. Through our scholarship program, we’re encouraging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, women and regional students to pursue a career in aviation to ensure the pilots in the cockpit better reflect the diversity of those sitting in the cabin.”

The first 34 students started their training at the new facilities earlier this month, with 100 students expected to be in training by the end of 2020. The Academy is expected to eventually grow to have the potential to train as many as 500 pilots a year across Toowoomba and Mackay, the preferred location for the second Academy site. 

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said: “My government will always fight to secure this kind of investments for our regions – this drives our commitment to deliver more jobs and opportunities to regional communities like Toowoomba.”

“Support from our Advance Queensland Industry Attraction Fund was vital in securing the academy for the Darling Downs.

“Construction of the academy has already created around 100 jobs, while also supporting an additional 300 jobs along the construction supply chain. 

“As the academy begins to reach its full capacity, eventually training 250 pilots a year, up to 160 new jobs will be created in training and support roles.

“This influx of activity will have a positive impact on the community, supporting local businesses and local families. It’s a fantastic outcome for Toowoomba.”

Wagner Corporation Chairman, John Wagner said:

“We are delighted to have partnered with Qantas to deliver the first Qantas Group Pilot Academy in just 5 months from turning sod.  The Qantas Group Pilot Academy is a world-class asset for our region and further establishes Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport and Wellcamp Business Park as the location of choice for aviation training, maintenance and logistics service and industries.”

“Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport has fast become a nationally strategic and important piece of infrastructure and we are proud that the airport and surrounding Wellcamp Business Park has been an enabler for regional growth, securing more opportunities for education and employment and being seen and utilized as a hub for Queensland and our region.”

After completing the twelve-month training, the graduates will hold a commercial pilot license and join the Qantas Group’s pilot talent pool, as well as having access to opportunities with partner airlines.

The Qantas Group has appointed FTA as the training provider for the Toowoomba site. Established in Adelaide, FTA has almost 40 years’ experience in pilot training and works with a number of domestic and overseas airlines.

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