Tamworth council is considering upgrading QantasLink’s maintenance hangar, as it seeks to persuade the airline to choose the city as the home of its $20-million pilot academy.
Council is brainstorming ideas to put the city at the forefront of the nation-wide race for the facility, which Tamworth mayor Col Murray says would benefit the region “for many, many generations into the future”.
“Potentially we’ll be having a discussion about a larger maintenance facility for Qantas, to enable them to have three maintenance lines,” Cr Murray said.
“They currently have two at the airport and their maintenance people suggest to us, that to be properly competitive, they need a three-bay hangar facility.”
Council’s general manager Paul Bennett said Tamworth’s aviation maintenance industry was a “huge attribute” in the city’s bid for the pilot academy.
“There is actually a bigger shortage of aircraft maintenance technicians than there are in pilots,” Mr Bennett said.
“We’ve got the maintenance training facility in Tamworth – AviSkills – and it’s the only qualified training facility in NSW.
“So not only could you have pilots in training over here, but you’ve also got the potential to training your future maintenance engineers at the same site.”
Cr Murray said there would “definitely be a role” for the state government to play in regards to funding any infrastructure costs associated with the bid for the flight school.
“We’ll be seeking some funding assistance to be part of our bid, but just want that looks like, we’re not so sure yet,” Cr Murray said.
Cr Murray believes Tamworth is a front runner for the facility, given it already had much of the necessary infrastructure in place.
“Qantas says they want to start training pilots in 2019, so there’s not a lot of time when you think about everything that’s needed,” he said.