Cobar Shire Council (CSC) has been directed to investigate the opportunities available for a flight training centre for the region following discussion on the matter at the last Thursday’s council meeting.
Cr Peter Yench raised the issue and said the establishment of a flight training centre in Cobar would bring hundreds of people to the shire and give council an extra income from the airport facilities.
“Cobar is blessed with open spaces and has the ability to manage such an operation around existing air traffic,” Cr Yench told the meeting.
Cr Yench raised the matter with council and the Cobar Economic Task Force after reading a newspaper article that said that Australia would be urged to train 261,000 pilots for the Asia Pacific region by 2034.
The article suggested there was currently not enough training capacity in Australia to fulfil this demand.
According to the Newscorp article, Boeing in their most recent forecast, predicted an additional 533,000 commercial airline pilots would be needed between now and 2034 and 584,000 maintenance technicians.
The article said almost half of those will be required in the Asia Pacific region where much of the growth is occurring due to economic changes in China and India.
Australian Wings Academy Chief Pilot Nathan James is quoted in the article saying there was currently not enough training capacity in Australia to fulfil the forecast demand for pilots in the region.
“Of the 206 flying schools around the country, only 25 have approval to train overseas students,” Mr James said.
“I think we are going to see over the next 10 years, more and more Chinese and other Asian airlines investing in flight training facilities in Australia,” he said.
Cr Yench said he believes there is as an opportunity for a training centre to be established in Cobar.
The establishment of a flight school would entail the proprietor to: hire/or be a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certified flight instructor to teach; obtain several aircrafts for flight training; have specialised aircraft insurance and training protection; source a maintenance aircraft service provider; and hire an approved FAA runway or location.
Flight schools have long been established in a number of rural areas including Wagga Wagga, Bathurst, Orange, Parkes, Dubbo and Broken Hill to name a few.
In 1929 the Narromine aero club was formed, however flying began in the region as early as 1919.
It’s Australia’s oldest regional aero club and during World War II was upgraded to host an RAAF Flying school, and in 1945 a unique RAF Mosquito bomber squadron.
The post war years saw Qantas conduct much of its pilot training there.