Alice among nine cities on pilot academy shortlist


2552 Qantas indigenous livery OKAlice Springs is one of nine regional cities on the shortlist to be home to the new Qantas Group Pilot Academy.
The academy, due to open in 2019, is part of the airline’s plans “to build a long-term talent pipeline … and meet the increasing need for skilled aviators in one of the world’s fastest growing industries,” according to a media release today.
“Estimates suggest the global airline industry needs more than 640,000 more pilots over the next 20 years – 40% of them in the Asia Pacific region.”
The airline says 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.
The others selected from 60 regional cities are Bendigo (Victoria); Busselton (WA); Dubbo, Wagga Wagga and Tamworth  (NSW), Mackay and Toowoomba (Queensland) and Launceston (Tasmania).
“The 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,” says the release.
A final decision is expected to be made in the third quarter of this year.
Academy executive manager, Wes Nobelius, is quoted: “The way that communities have come together to develop some outstanding proposals has been fantastic. From ideas around scholarships to a community photo shoot in Mackay and a video message from the children of Dubbo, we’ve been really impressed with the quality of responses and the level of support on offer.
He says 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.
“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 release says the national carrier contributed more than $5b to the economy in regional Australia in FY17 and supported more than 40,000 jobs.
More than 14,000 aspiring pilots have so far registered their interest in the academy.
The national carrier is encouraging more women to consider a career in aviation, which globally stands at just 3%. Around 16% of people registering interest in the academy are female.
IMAGE courtesy Qantas: Jet in indigenous livery over Central Australia.


  1. “The 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.”
    Fingers crossed that nobody will object, no bickering and a unified town will welcome the visitors.

  2. This represents a truly fantastic opportunity for Alice Springs. I am confident everyone from the airport staff to Town Council to the business community will get fully behind this chance to grow Alice.

  3. Great to see such vision for the future. Too many plans espoused without the vision for what’s possible underpinning those plans leads to a piece-meal approach.
    Our terrific community spirit can embrace this opportunity and get behind it. The video certainly highlights the many reasons why Alice Springs is a perfect choice for this proposal. Good luck, Alice Springs.

  4. This would be awesome for the town! Let’s just hope they don’t take the town’s reputation for crime into account when deciding. I hope the NT Government are throwing incentives at QANTAS for it!


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