FLYING HIGH: Bundaberg in the running for pilot academy
BUNDABERG Regional Council has thrown its hat in the ring to bring a Qantas Pilot Training Academy to the region.
Earlier this year the carrier announced it would canvas regional centres for the best possible location for the training academy and invited local and state government organisations to work together to lodge an expression of interest.
Acting Mayor Bill Trevor said the council was among more than 40 locations to present an EOI but Bundaberg, with its rich aviation history and required infrastructure, was well suited to the proposal.
"Qantas has stipulated certain criteria associated with a desired location and, singularly, the Bundaberg region can comfortably accommodate most of the set criteria," he said.
"However, to bolster our application and to provide a connected regional approach to the submission, council has partnered with Fraser Coast Regional Council in seeking the facility for the Wide Bay region.
"The two councils have collaborated to engage AEC Group to produce Economic Impact Assessments and if there is an opportunity for the Qantas Group to consider a regional collaboration for the academy, both councils would be very supportive and welcoming of this approach.
"There is little doubt that aviation is in the DNA of the Bundaberg region. After all, one of the world's greatest pioneering aviators, Bert Hinkler, was born and raised in this community."
Cr Trevor said the council was committed to the development of the regional airport and a Pilot Training Academy would be a perfect centrepiece given the availability of land and the close proximity of the Bundaberg CQUniversity campus, which is already engaged in aviation courses.
"Bundaberg is a standout candidate in meeting the required criteria of connectivity, runway design and excellent weather conditions. It is also considered a favourable location for the academy in terms of relatively low traffic and no military airspace proximity," he said.
"Furthermore, the lifestyle factors - for example the low cost of housing - will be seen as very attractive incentives, as they are to so many of us residing in the region.
"We have suitably zoned commercial land available at the airport and Bundaberg's location in relation to not only the Wide Bay region, but also Gladstone, Rockhampton and Brisbane provides a pipeline to talent available to attend the academy.
"Qantas figures stating more than 12,500 aspiring pilots have indicated a desire to attend the academy clearly shows the economic value of this facility."
Qantas expects to shortlist applicants in coming weeks and the successful regional area will be known later this year.