TAMWORTH would be the perfect place for QantasLink’s $20-million pilot academy, city officials have declared.
The airline wants a new facility, which would be capable of training up to 500 pilots a year, to be based somewhere in regional Australia.
Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson said the city had a long history of aviation training and was ideally placed to make the pilot academy a success.
“This is a fantastic initiative from Qantas and I am excited to highlight Tamworth as the ideal location for the new pilot academy,” Mr Anderson said.
“Tamworth has been a defence and civilian pilot training base for many years. I believe choosing Tamworth as the location will give them the best bang for their buck.”
Mr Anderson said he would discuss the proposal with NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Deputy Premier John Barilaro.
Tamworth mayor Col Murray says the city easily fulfilled QantasLink’s requirement’s – such as an existing airfield that provides easy access to uncongested airspace.
“We’ll probably be one of the front runners in the considerations,” Cr Murray said.
“We’ve got some great attributes going for us – parallel runways, top-of-line landing instrument system, abundant airspace and development approval to extend the accommodation at the existing training facility.
“It would be sensational for us to get this and we’ve already begun lobbying for it.”
John Glynn, a Tamworth-based lawyer who specialises in aviation law, said Tamworth was “probably the best situated pilot training place in Australia”.
“Compared to anything else in regional Australia, there is nothing like it,” he said.
“We’ve got a control tower, all the instruments and great weather.”
In November, QantasLink scaled back its number of Tamworth-Sydney flights, due to the large number of cancelled flights. The airline said the nationwide shortage of pilots was a large contributing factor.
QantasLink will refurbishing its fleet out of Tamworth’s maintenance hanger, giving the city’s economy another shot in the arm.
It’s fleet of 45 turboprop aircraft will undergo a major cabin upgrade to improve the overall experience for customers travelling on the airline’s regional network.
The interiors of the airline’s Bombardier Q200, Q300 and Q400 aircraft will be refreshed with new ergonomic seat cushioning, leather upholstery, a refreshed colour palette and new floor coverings.
The upgrade program will start in June and is expected to be completed within 18 months, with each aircraft taking approximately three days to refresh.
The work will be timed to coincide with scheduled maintenance and will closely align the turboprop interiors with the QantasLink jet fleet.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said the multi-million dollar investment would give regional travellers a better travel experience.
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