THE City of Greater Bendigo hopes regular blue skies, low wind and clear airspace would make Bendigo airport the ideal place for a Qantas Pilot Group Academy.
Bendigo has been shortlisted as one of nine regional Australian cities – and the only one in Victoria – to host the academy, which is planned to train 500 pilots per year.
More than 60 cities put forward a proposal.
The academy is planned to open in 2019 as part of Qantas’ efforts to establish a “long-term talent pipeline” to meet the growing demand for skilled pilots.
Bendigo’s proposal will compete with Alice Springs, Busselton, Dubbo, Launceston, Mackay, Tamworth, Toowoomba and Wagga Wagga.
Criteria included an uncongested airspace, a high number of clear weather days and infrastructure to support up to 100 students in the first year.
Qantas Pilot Group Academy management will visit each of the cities in the coming weeks to meet with community leaders, suppliers and airport operators.
A final decision is expected to be made in the coming months.
The academy will train pilots for airlines, the defence force, services like the Royal Flying Doctors and other aviation areas.
City of Greater Bendigo chief executive officer Craig Niemann said they looked forward to meeting with Qantas to put forward their case in person.
“We haven’t got a lot of airport activity right now, so we can sell a lot of airspace,” he said.
“There’s great advantages here, there’s clear weather most of the time, there’s a real opportunity for a lot more activity both at our airport and at other regional airports.
“We’ve got the runway. We’ll need a greater scale terminal building. That will be required for both passenger transport and for conducting more and more flights in and out of Bendigo
“There will also be some training facilities, some accommodation required, we expect that might be central to Bendigo and not out of the airport.”
Bendigo also boasts something different to most regional centres – 300 days of clear weather per year.
Qantas Group Pilot Academy executive manager Wes Nobelius said the academy would create a “talent pipeline” to produce senior pilots for the aviation industry.
“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,” he said.
Other cities are also believed to have strong proposals, including Tamworth, which recently lost its contract for Defence Force pilot training and picked up a QantasLink maintenance contract.
But the process could result in two academies as Qantas attempts to meet the growing demand for pilots around the world.