The next generation of pilots will learn to fly at the Qantas Group’s new Pilot Academy in Toowoomba, Australia, which officially opened in January 2020.

The Pilot Academy will have the capacity to train up to 250 pilots each year to build a long-term talent pipeline for Qantas, Jetstar and QantasLink and help the broader industry meet the increasing need for skilled aviators.

Boeing estimates more than 800,000 more pilots will be required globally over the next 20 years with around one third of them in the Asia Pacific.

The training facilities comprise a 1500 square metre hangar, four flight training simulators, classrooms as well as purpose-built pre-flight briefing and flight scheduling areas. The students are learning to fly in single-engine Diamond DA40 and multi-engine DA42 aircraft. 

The Academy also aims to increase the proportion of female and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pilots in the industry. Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said, in its centenary year, Qantas will provide three scholarships for Indigenous students, each valued at $85,000, with future scholarships available for female students and candidates from regional and remote areas.

“When we announced the academy, we said we wanted to tap into a broader, more diverse talent base. Through our scholarship program we’re encouraging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and regional students to pursue a career in aviation to ensure the pilots in the cockpit better reflect the diversity of those sitting in the cabin,” said Joyce.

The first 34 students started their training at the new facilities earlier this month, with 100 students expected to be in training by the end of 2020. The Academy is expected to eventually grow to have the potential to train as many as 500 pilots a year across Toowoomba and Mackay, the preferred location for the second Academy site.

After completing the twelve-month training, the graduates will hold a commercial pilot licence and join the Qantas Group’s pilot talent pool, as well as have access to opportunities with partner airlines. The Qantas Group has appointed FTA as the training provider for the Toowoomba site.