GLEN Innes could soon boast a flight school following an extensive search in the northern region for a host airport.
Australia Asia Flight Training (AAFT) has lodged the development application for the academy with Glen Innes Severn Council.
Armidale, Tamworth, Narrabri, Gunnedah, Moree, Inverell and Quirindi airports had also been considered in the past few years, but these possibilities all fell through for various reasons.
Among the reasons AAFT gave for its decision were Glen Innes’ “friendly open minded local community”, acceptance of overseas students and the proximity to Tamworth airport.
The school would house and train up to 600 full-time students, 70 per cent of whom would be from overseas.
AAFT’s academy at Coolangatta airport, which trains up to 80 residential students a year, would relocate to Glen Innes.
The council would sell AAFT about 10 hectares of land and the airport would be leased for 30 years.
AAFT says the school would provide flow-on effects of more than $20 million for the area each year, and direct and indirect employment would create more than 200 jobs in the first stage of development.
The transfer of the upkeep and repair to AAFT for 30 years would also save the council money, with that responsibility costing more than $250,000 each year.
Construction on the school is expected to begin January next year and be completed by June if it gets approved.
Glen Innes mayor Steve Toms said he was not aware of any objection to the proposal, unlike the controversy that surrounded it earlier this year when it was pitched for Quirindi airport.
Concerns about noise and the impact on other users plagued the Quirindi proposal, prompting Liverpool Plains Shire Council to dismiss it.
Councillor Toms said the council had wanted to find another use for the airport since a commercial service ceased eight to 10 years ago.
It is otherwise used by the aero club, charter services and emergency services.
According to AAFT, the school is vital to address a shortfall of more than 3000 commercial pilot training places each year in the Australia and Asia region.
Cr Toms said the application would go to the Joint Regional Planning Panel for determination, possibly at the end of
The application can be viewed at the council’s Church St office or online at gisc-new.
Submissions can be made until September 7.