RMIT will expand its flight training school into Bendigo.
Students will soon be able to become fully qualified pilots without moving to Melbourne.
The RMIT flight training school is separate from the Qantas Pilot Academy, for which Bendigo is in the running. The location of the Qantas academy has not yet been announced.
Students at the RMIT flight training school will be able to become fully-qualified, industry-ready pilots. Aspiring pilots will train in newly-acquired Cessna 172s and have access to the RMIT training fleet.
RMIT flight school's current operational base is at the Point Cook Airfield, 25 kilometres south west of Melbourne.
Student pilots will develop their skills on routes between Bendigo and other regional centres, including Swan Hill, Mildura, Shepparton, Horsham and the NSW Riverina.
The move follows Qantas' December announcement it would begin to run services between Bendigo and Sydney.
The expanded operation is intended to help address a global pilot shortage.
Almost 800,000 pilots will be needed in the next two decades according to figures from the International Civil Aviation Organization.
City of Greater Bendigo Director, Strategy and Growth Bernie O’Sullivan said the announcement was "terrific" news for Bendigo and the wider region.
Mr O'Sullivan said he could only see Bendigo's airport continue to grow.
"The decision late last year for Qantas to commence direct passenger flights… has been a game changer for Bendigo and the wider region," Mr O'Sullivan said.
Read more: Pilots celebrate new runway | Photos, Video
"RMIT’s flight training school offers a fantastic opportunity for people to be trained in a regional location such as Bendigo and not have to move to Melbourne or other capital cities to receive topnotch aviation training," Mr O'Sullivan.
"That’s really exciting for Bendigo and the region, and enables Bendigo to encourage more professionals to the city to live and invest."
Mr O'Sullivan said the announcement from RMIT would not affect the city's chances of being the location chosen for the Qantas Pilot Group Academy.
"The two initiatives have in a sense been running side by side. One is not contingent on the other, and vice versa," Mr O'Sullivan said.
RMIT’s announcement only highlights further confidence in Bendigo Airport and will only encourage other operators and people to be interested in ... being involved in the airport.- Bernie O'Sullivan
"RMIT’s announcement only highlights further confidence in Bendigo Airport and will only encourage other operators and people to be interested in ... being involved in the airport."
Mr O'Sullivan said the city would not need to expand the airport further to accommodate the flight school's activities.
Read more: Bendigo shortlisted for Qantas pilot academy
He said the announcement demonstrated the "many economic benefits" that flow from investing in new infrastructure, such as the new runway at the airport.
A new 1600 metre runway opened at the airport in 2017.
"The RMIT flight training school will be self-contained in a hangar at the airport," Mr O'Sullivan said.
"There’s certainly plenty of space at the Bendigo airport to encompass this new initiative and school from RMIT."
Mr O'Sullivan said Bendigo's uncontested airways, 300 clear flying days a year and links to other regional airstrips were what led to the city's airport being chosen.
"It provides a very nice hub to be based from to enable aspiring pilots to be trained," Mr O'Sullivan said.
COGB Mayor Cr Margaret O'Rourke said the flight school was a "fantastic outcome" for Bendigo and the wider region, saying it demonstrated the economic benefits of investing in new infrastructure.
"Bendigo has more than 300 flyable days a year, so our new runway will be the perfect training ground for the pilots that will study with RMIT each year," Cr O'Rourke said.
"This announcement also brings with it eight new jobs, so the City of Greater Bendigo is delighted more people will either come to or continue living in our community while they study or obtain ongoing work."
The RMIT flight school was opened in 1994. It has trained more than 3000 pilots from around the world since it was established.
RMIT offers an Associate Degree in Aviation (Professional Pilots) and a Bachelor of Applied Science (Aviation).
The associate degree takes two years when completed full time.
Students can qualify for a private pilot licence with a Diploma of Flying if they successfully complete the first eight core subjects required for the associate degree.
RMIT has not commented on which courses will be run out of Bendigo.
The university's Pro Vice-Chancellor Science, Engioneering and Health, and Vice-President Professor Peter Coloe said RMIT was excited to offer more student the chance to train as pilots while there was a growing industry demand.
"We're looking forward to giving more students from diverse backgrounds the opportunity to become fully-qualified pilots as we expand our flight training program into regional Victoria," he said.
"Our Bendigo flight training program will give students an opportunity to pursue their dream of becoming a pilot without having to permanently move to Melbourne to gain in-demand aviation skills."
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