Intense interest in a new Qantas training facility is good news for aviation veterans worried about waning interest in the industry among young people.
More than 22,000 people have so far registered their interest in the new Qantas Group Pilot Academy due t open its doors in Toowoomba, Queensland, in September.
Those keen enough to go on to the next stage can now formally apply for what will be highly-contested places in the first intake.
There will be an added twist in that the national carrier is keen to address the gender imbalance among pilots.
Just 5 percent of the global pilot group are women and the airline sees improving female representation as a key to meeting a market demand put at 790,000 pilots over the next 20 years.
About 17 percent of people who registered their interest in the academy are female.
The opening of applications comes as the Flying Kangaroo appointed Flight Training Adelaide as the training provider at Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport after the previous provider dropped out.
The airline said FTA would bring a mix of modern single and twin-engine aircraft with glass cockpits to support the training.
An added plus for the students will be a mentoring program that involving some of the Qantas Group’s most senior pilots.
The deal with Toowoomba airport owners the Wagner Corporation marks the first of two Qantas pilot training locations and was chosen from a shortlist of nine regional cities.
The application as supported by the Queensland government and will boost jobs in the region.
Alice Springs, Bendigo, Busselton, Dubbo, Launceston, Mackay and Wagga Wagga are all still under consideration for the second Academy site with a decision expected to be made soon.
“We’re conscious there are several regional cities still waiting to hear whether they have been successful as the home of our second academy and we really appreciate their patience, as we focus on getting the first site to this stage,” Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said.
Joyce said Qantas pilots were among the world’s best and the airline wanted to attract passionate young men and women and “to learn from the best, to become the best”.
He expected there to be some exceptional talent among the 22,000 people to have registered their interest.
“We’ve partnered with FTA, a leading training provider, and will offer purpose-built facilities and student accommodation,’’ he said.
“The Toowoomba site will be a world-class training school for future pilots, not just for the Qantas Group but for the broader industry, too.
“We look forward to welcoming the first students to the Academy later this year.”
Qantas is offering scholarships for the course, which is designed to train students with little to no flying experience and includes both theory and practical components.
The airline said the students would graduate with a number of qualifications to prepare them for a career in general or commercial aviation, including a commercial pilot license.
It said post-graduates would join the Qantas Group’s pilot talent pool and have access to opportunities with partners in the aviation industry.