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King Charles-backed group’s medal for Qantas academy

written by Adam Thorn | December 26, 2023

The Grand Master’s Australian Medal awarded to the Qantas Group Pilot Academy.

An organisation backed by the King has awarded one of its top honours to Qantas’ pilot academy.

The Honourable Company of Air Pilots hailed the training organisation’s “zero-accident record” to grant it the prestigious Grand Master’s Australian Medal.

The training centre, based in Toowoomba, formally opened in 2020 and is overseen by FTA Queensland.

Its chief operating officer, Pierre Steyn, said the group was proud to receive the recognition.

“It’s a privilege to train the next generation of Australian pilots in partnership with the Qantas Group, and we’ll continue to encourage a broader and more diverse range of people to consider a flying career,” he said.


The Honourable Company of Air Pilots’ patron is King Charles and was previously the late Prince Philip, who hailed it as a “unique organisation” because its upper membership is restricted to qualified pilots and navigators.

It aims to bring together the views and ideas of people who control aircraft in the air, but without being a lobby or pressure group.

The Grand Masters Australian Medal, meanwhile, is awarded to a group or individual involved in any branch of aviation that has made a significant contribution to the sector. Last year, it was granted to the RAAF pilots team behind the centenary flypast in Canberra.

The Qantas Group Pilot Academy has already graduated nearly 300 students, with around one in five female.

Training facilities comprise a hangar, four flight training simulators, classrooms, and purpose-built pre-flight briefing and flight scheduling areas. Students learn to fly in single-engine Diamond DA40 and multi-engine DA42 aircraft.

Australian Aviation reported earlier this year how the Flying Kangaroo would spend $1.5 million over five years to launch 50 scholarships at the academy to increase female and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representation in its cockpits.

The scholarships – issued at a rate of 10 per year, each valued at $30,000 – cover accommodation, meals and utilities with tuition to be paid by the students.

This was a restart of the scholarship program after a three-year pause during COVID-19, with the 10 annual scholarships an increase from the six before the pandemic.

Graduates from its 12-month course hold three qualifications, including a Commercial Pilot’s Licence. They are added to Qantas Group’s pilot talent pool and given access to opportunities with its partner airlines.

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