Qantas to set up its own pilot academy

Qantas Second Officer Arika Maloney, RMIT Aviation Student Anna Garliss, Griffith Aviation Student Kate Richards, and QantasLink First Officer Nicholas Bevis in front of a Qantas Q300 turboprop. (Mark Sherborne/Qantas)

Qantas says it will establish a new pilot training academy with the capacity to train up to 500 pilots a year.

To be called the Qantas Group Pilot Academy, the school will open its doors in 2019 and is initially for direct entry cadets joining the Qantas Group, including Jetstar and QantasLink.

The academy would initially train about 100 pilots a year, while depending on demand from other parts of the industry, this could grow to 500 pilots a year on a fee for service basis.

“Over time, we see huge potential for the academy to train for the industry more broadly,” Qantas Group chief executive Alan Joyce said on Thursday.

“We have some of the most talented pilots in the world flying for us, so imagine the demand to have Qantas pilots train others.”

Qantas will invest an initial $20 million in the new academy, which will likely be established at an “existing airfield in regional Australia”. The airline says it will partner with “one of several existing training providers” to establish the academy, and that it “will also engage with federal, state and territory governments to discuss possible locations”.

“Ultimately, we expected the Qantas Group Pilot Academy to be one of the biggest in the southern hemisphere, capable of producing 500 pilots a year,” Joyce said.

Boeing’s 2017-2036 Pilot and Technician Outlook, published in July, showed there was a need for 637,000 new commercial airline pilots. The Asia Pacific would comprise the largest source of demand with 40 per cent of new pilots to be recruited in the region between now and 2036.

“That level of demand makes the academy important not just for Qantas but for Australian aviation more broadly so that all parts of the industry have access to qualified pilots in a country that relies so heavily on air transport,” Joyce said

“Over time, we see potential for the academy to become a competitive advantage for Australia in the region. It could train pilots for other airlines and grow into the largest academy of its kind in the southern hemisphere.”

Boeing's 2017-2036 outlook for pilots by region. (Boeing)
Boeing’s 2017-2036 outlook for pilots by region. (Boeing)

Qantas Group Pilot Academy students, typically expected to be high school and university graduates with “strong academic performance”, would undergo 18 months of classroom, flight and simulator training. They would then “receive further training specific to the type of aircraft they will be flying before entering service as a First Officer on turboprop aircraft, sitting next to an experienced captain,” Qantas said.

Since 2016, the Qantas Group has hired almost 600 new pilots in Australia, with another 350 to be recruited by the end of this calendar year.

Potential applicants to the academy can register their interest here.


  1. john doutch says

    This is great news. The article mentions direct to first officer, are we doing away with the second officer??

  2. PAUL says

    AirNZ should do likewise & like Military training strategy the trainee can get moulded right from the start for company requirements.

  3. David Brown says

    Great initiative to build a business in a high growth / high demand market and expand Australia’s place in the regional aviation market.

    Pity they don’t think laterally and build a MRO and tech training business here also. Yes, yes … high cost base etc. but demand for MRO is also growing and QF Group have highly skilled and experience tech base to build from and build third party MRO and training revenues. It would also provide scale to bring fleet work back on-shore.

  4. Bill says

    Avalon would be a good base for the training ops. It’s regional without being too far from Melbourne, has an ILS, plenty of airspace to the south and west and isn’t an overly busy airport currently. Where ever it’s based it will be amazing for the local economy.

  5. Bob says

    Tamworth would be the best option for this one would think, the military departing at end of 2019 and BAE no doubt keen to offload it, great facilities, airspace and Qantaslink 200 meters down the road. CAE already occupying part of the building, are they the “existing training provider”?

  6. StudentP says

    There are any number of good places to establish the Academy. I’m sure the politicians will have some say about how best to win votes.

  7. D bell says

    Well Barnaby dropped the ball when defence went south. The air training centre in Tamworth would be the ideal as there is engineering and admin capacity with air traffic control and with regional commonwealth grant money close out any short falls. Alas Alan Joyce will make the wrong forward thinking decision and again regional aviation will suffer

  8. Rosalie says

    It sounds like a step in the right direction. Exciting times for Qantas.
    Wondering what the process , fees, guidelines, pre requisites if any and will there be any government subsidised places. Will there be any opportunity for anyone interested to be able to pay the fees back slowly.
    I do have many questions as l have s son that is very interested. Thank you.

  9. James says

    @ Arie

    Not sure where you got your info from in relation to uni degrees. I think you’ll find that having an aviation degree certainly does not put you in the lead against any other pilot applicant.

  10. Craigy says

    I would say Tamworth would have to be high on the list with accommodation, teaching and maintenance facilities already established. Qantas has said an existing training provider and BaE with CAE makes a lot of sense. Maybe in the longer term they will expand to include tech training. It could be called The Qantas Group Aviation Academy

  11. Denis Gregory says

    Orange NSW would be an excellent site for the academy. There’s a top airport here that’s ideal for pilot training. Orange has better amenities than capital city suburbs including the best and newest hospital in regional NSW that has more than 40 specialists, three championship golf courses, a full range of sporting clubs, a university, top restaurants and ample accommodation. The climate is good. and the city is friendly.

  12. Another James says

    To be attended by ‘rich kids of leisure’ whose parents or grandparents will hand over somewhere in the vicinity of $150,000 to $180,000.

  13. James says

    I dare say it will be Avalon or Tamworth. But they should seriously consider QLD. The state government will no doubt offer very good incentives to build it there.

    Wellcamp, Sunshine Coast, Rocky/Gladstone, Townsville or Cairns.

  14. Craigy says

    @ D Bell Alan Joyce doesn’t make the decision all by himself. Surely a recommendation will be put to the board based on a costed proposal. No matter where it is located, it will be in a regional location.

    @ James. I doubt Townsville will be a serious contender with the Army and RAAF located there. Deployments of F18s and other local military training etc will impact on the training of the flying school.. 100 students = a lot of sorties a day. I think the terrain around Cairns would be an issue so it is probably out. The other Queensland locations are real possibilities though

  15. Daryl says

    Will this program be avaliable to those students that are still in High School so that children can Focus there studies in the right direction to obtain a career in this indusrty.
    Little Airports like Parafield Airport in South Australia may be able to help in the training so that children don’t have to be away from there parents at a young age.
    The earlier they start the longer they will be in the industry and of a high calibre of pilot due to experience learnt

  16. Scott says

    They will settle on Tamworth after having a Dutch auction for the states v states as suggested fishing and requesting state government grants and tax exemptions.

  17. James says

    @ Craigy

    Thinking about it, the terrain at Cairns wouldn’t be a problem. Left circuits off 15, right off 33.
    Probably too busy. Every time I operate into there it’s a bit hectic.

    I see what you’re saying about TSV. I think Wellcamp is a great spot, although jRocky council would practically beg QF to build there. Not a busy place, ATC and firies and nice low approaches. Plus Gladstone is only 50nm away with an ILS.

  18. Craigy says

    @ James Cairns would be too busy with limitations in circuit directions and the number of ab intio students in the circuit with departing and arriving commercial traffic. Another consideration is where is the training area for non-circuit training?

    Apart from Avalon, what about Point Cook? RMIT are set up there already.

  19. deano says

    One would think that QF could operate their training with something similar to a HEX
    An entire package, rather than just pilot training

    For example
    A student signs up to be trained for x years and be employed for a minimum 6 years at QF
    During the employment stage, the new pilot would have their fees deducted from their pay

    This would ensure a regular supply of pilots, not based of their financial status, more on the skills required and quality based placements
    It also locks in the student to QF for 6 years
    QF gets their money back
    Everyone wins….

  20. Doug bell says

    Tamworth has many pluses. The airport itself: Air Traffic control, 2 runways, generally little disturbance due to weather, although maybe 20 winter mornings a year, fog is an issue until 8 to 9 am. The main runway is 2,200 metres long and can handle 737/ 320 equipment. Infrastructure: Currently Eastern Australian airlines, sorry QANTAS Link, old habits die hard. has maintenance and administration capacity that is going to waste. The air Academy once defence removes itself will be only running at half, if that capacity and with a current fleet of between 24 and thirty aircraft could easily be expanded to suit small twin jet equipment or mid size tub’s for advanced training. There is plenty of flight capacity and night navigational training opportunities. The RAAF used to fly the F111’s to Lake Keepit from Amberly on night nav ops in the early 90’s. The Airport currently connects to Sydney and Brisbane with regular RPT. The city is growing and currently has a base population of excess of 45,000. The City Council is pro-active with attracting new business and with TREC and the Equine Centre now generating a regular income, this would be another feather in the cap of the Council. I hope the Council, State and Commonwealth tiers all get together on this one. Denis, Orange simply does not have the infrastructure or climate to support this type of high end training. Nor does Dubbo. Tamworth is an excellent all round option.

  21. James says

    @ Craigy

    Yeah very true. I’m not sure where the training area is, but it’s not the first time flying trading has been done there so I’m sure they would figure it out.

    I reckon Tamworth would be the way to go infrastructure wise. But they’ll not doubt have plenty of options.

  22. KFB says

    I really hope that they put this in Mildura. We already have several flight schools here so it would be a natural fit. We recently had airport upgrades and a runway overlay take place so we also have excellent facilities.

  23. KFB says

    Also, we have RPT flights to Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Broken Hill with various airlines in Mildura and daily jet services.

  24. Rod Pickin says

    Most of you are probably too young to remember the halcyon days for the new QF jockeys when they would be “leased” out to say Bushies and or the R.F.D.S for further training and experience. Naturally that won’t happen again but I think the latest training school advocated by QF is more than just smart, it is safety smart. Hiring outside pilots, with due respect, can lead to an importation of bad habits and standards which are very hard to change.. This new package will ensure that the QF desired and proven standards will be both maintained and enhanced. To me today, it is a good feeling when on QF that whoever is driving the bus, you know they have been through the “system” and are professional, otherwise, they wouldn’t be there..
    As for the payment options, just because one has a swag of dollars doesn’t mean that one has what it takes. -If the student is achieving, great, if not, sorry bye bye. Once you have the now fully trained fresh freckle faced aviator in that right hand seat you most likely will have him/her for many years, time in which to receive returns on investments. Once this scheme is up and running, lets then go to an “Engine” maintenance and development programme, don’t be silly Rod, they wouldn’t do that.

  25. Robert says

    I believe Wellcamp would be a great location to build the new academy. Wagners need to get onboard with Qantas as it will provide the perfect location for the training of cadet pilots. They have ample parcels of land surroundung the airport suitable for further development that could also allow for maintenance facilities. Regardless of location it sounds like a great opportunity to be able to be trained by the nations flag carrier, that i would certaintly would be keen to be apart of.

  26. James says

    @ Rod Pickin.

    What a load of utter crap. No I wasn’t around in those halcyon days, but I do remember the scheme and have read a few stories that detailed it. If you claim to know half of what you talk about you’ll know the book.

    As a pilot myself (albeit not in the QF group) I can tell you that having cookie cutter kids coming through an organisational training system like that is NOT always the safest way.

    Right now Rod, QF still have the ability to pull drivers from the GA scene and the RAAF. If you come to QF, you are taught to operate the AIRCRAFT their way, not re taught how to fly.

    Having people come from outside environments means they come from different flying situations, different experiences and exposures and with the right amount of PIC time they can bring the ability to think for themselves and make the correct decision under pressure! Having skills and knowledge base not built around being thrown into a Dash and never flying by themselves it not necessarily the right way to do it. Remember too Rod, just like the latter years QF cadet program, these new kids will still have to pay for it!

    The next QF bus you go on that’s bring driven by a guy or gal that’s done their time in the NT, the Straits or North West shelf etc will probably attest to that. When you’re curling your fingers around the seat edges as your jet bounces it’s way through driving rain into Brisbane, that ex Darwin pilot is yawning because it was a daily wet season job in their 310 doing just the same.

    To all those wanna be airline pilots out their, do your research guys. If you or your folks can afford it, absolutely try and get into this program. A job is a job nowadays. But there are still plenty of operators around, some that don’t teach you bad habits and if you go down that road you will build skills that will serve you very well into the future.

  27. Rod Pickin says

    I seem to have touched a nerve with James but that is democracy. To the best of my knowledge neither the RAAF. nor REX want to loose pilots that they have invested in. It would appear to me that REX would be wise to consider taking a business share in the new training operation, they probably have, that way everyone wins. The RAAF of course is far different but they have the opportunities to progress pilots from say Fast Jets through the various fleets thus retaining the skills much needed in such an organisation. It is worthy of note that BA has recently reopened it’s own pilot training facility in the UK too. I am quite sure that any pilot applying for a position here in recent times, if they met the criteria and skill set they would have been welcomed into the system for company and cultural training. Unfortunately, not everyone wins through but that is life.

  28. PC says

    Not one mention of WA 🙁 Yet SQ & one Chinese Carrier as well as Sing airforce love it here Throws all kinds of weather and decent navex;s that at times can be testing . That said Tamworth seems the winner for most of the stated reasons . The poster that mentioned NT bang on sir .

  29. Neil M says

    It must be Tamworth with Defence/BAE departing there is sufficient infrastructure already there that it just makes sense. Great community with more than adequate transport options to Brisbane & Sydney. Brand new University aligned Teaching hospital with tons of Community options for potential “students”.
    Tamworth way to go.

  30. John says

    “The next QF bus you go on that’s bring driven by a guy or gal that’s done their time in the NT, the Straits or North West shelf etc will probably attest to that. When you’re curling your fingers around the seat edges as your jet bounces it’s way through driving rain into Brisbane, that ex Darwin pilot is yawning because it was a daily wet season job in their 310 doing just the same.”

    Nonsense. Just another jealous cadet hater. I’ve seen ex bush and RAAF pilots almost have a panic attack over the slightest weather conditions, where pilots who trained as cadets and have flown nothing but RPT jets since basic training handle it with calm and ease.

  31. Dick Pearson says

    Another rural airport to be picked off and screw the local residents. Just don’t come to Kempsey – we have enough trouble already with this bloody AIAC mob training pilots for Hainan Airlines in China.

  32. Scott says

    Hi , great article. I would like to clear a couple of things up. QANTAS is running 2 pilot recruitment programs.
    The academy program mentioned in the article above, is basically open to anyone who meets the requirements.
    The 2nd program is the graduate pilot program. It was announced in December 2017 and is restricted to those students currently doing an aviation degree with the intention of completing a graduate diploma of flight management. On successful completion of the graduate diploma of flight management the student has their ATPL. There are 5 universitys involved in this program RMIT, Swinburne,UNSW,Griffith and USQ. My understanding is that QANTAS interviews this cohort from 2nd year onwards. The graduate program students will all start at QANTASlink and have been told by QANTAS it is expected that they should be in the right hand seat in 2 to 3 years. The students were also told that they will be moved within the QANTAS group,ie Qantaslink,Jetstar,QANTAS etc, so there is a rate of progression. Just a fact you might find interesting is the GDMF costs around $180k to $200k. Most of is covered by the various student debt schemes.
    The source of this information is my child who is currently doing this degree. QANTAS has conducted 2 recruitment briefings at the uni he goes to, latest one being this week to explain the academy path and last year to explain the graduate. At this week’s briefing they were told that in excess of 7000 people have expressed interest since the academy announcement.
    Just a tip i would like to give any student or parent who’s child is considering a job in commercial aviation, go and complete a class 1 medical 1st. My child has told me of how many students doing this degree go to move move onto the flight training stage only to failed the medical. They have wasted 3 years of their lives (and got a HECS debt). The universities wont tell you this on their open days,they just want to get your money.
    A final point the academy is apparently to be run by FTA according to the info given out by QANTAS this week.