Busselton is in the running to be the home of the new Qantas Group Pilot Academy.
The Qantas Group released a shortlist of the nine regional cities on June 22.
The academy, which is due to open its doors in 2019, is part of the Qantas Group’s plans to build a long-term talent pipeline for its airlines and meet the increasing need for skilled aviators in one of the world’s fastest growing industries.
Last month, regional cities and state governments were invited to coordinate their applications, putting forward their best case to be the home of the new pilot academy.
Criteria included access to uncongested airspace, a certain number of clear weather days per year and infrastructure to support and accommodate up to 100 students in the first year of operation.
More than 60 regional cities put forward a proposal and nine regional cities across Australia had now been selected to move to the next phase of the process.
Busselton is joined in the shortlist by Alice Springs, Bendigo, Dubbo, Mackay, Tamworth, Toowoomba and Wagga Wagga.
The Qantas Group Pilot Academy management team will visit these nine cities in coming weeks and meet with community leaders, suppliers and airport operators to further evaluate the feasibility of each location.
A final decision on the academy’s location is expected to be made in the third quarter of this year.
Qantas Group Pilot Academy executive manager Wes Nobelius thanked all the regional cities and state and territory governments for their time and interest.
“The way that communities have come together to develop some outstanding proposals has been fantastic,” he said.
“Narrowing down the possible locations from more than 60 to just nine wasn’t easy. It will be harder still to whittle this down to just one.”
Mr Nobelius said cities could still be in contention to host a second academy if the demand for pilots was strong enough – including training foreign students on behalf of airlines overseas.
“We think there could be enough demand from the broader industry for us to train up to 500 pilots a year, and to do that we’re likely to need two separate academies because of the practical realities of trying to do that much training in a single location,” he said.
“Training on this scale represents a commercial opportunity for Qantas but it’s also about contributing to a talent pipeline that we rely on for more senior pilots down the track. These graduates might fly for other airlines, join the defence force or be part of services like the Royal Flying Doctors.
“The applications from cities that we’ve seen through this process show regional cities have the capacity to help make Australia a regional hub for pilot training, and the potential benefit that could bring for local economies is huge.”
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