An intensive new aviation course is rocketing the Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport precinct to prominence as an educational campus. 

Story Therese Hall

An airline pilot is a dream occupation for many young people. And the ultimate job is to captain a Qantas 787 Dreamliner. This dream has now become more accessible, with the opening, in January, of the Qantas Group Pilot Academy in Toowoomba, Qld. 

For the first time, future Qantas captains can undertake comprehensive pilot training to the exacting standards required by the national carrier. The new course, which is being operated by FTA Queensland, runs over 52 weeks and incorporates a Diploma of Aviation (Commercial Pilots), a Diploma of Aviation (Instrument Rating) and an Advanced Diploma of Aviation (Piloting Command).

According to chief operating officer Pierre Steyn, the advantage of this course is its integrated design. “In this course the theory flows into the practical,” he says.

Daniel Dilger, of Kairi, on the Atherton Tableland, Qld, initially hoped to join the air force after leaving high school in Cairns in 2018. But when he heard about the new Qantas-sponsored course, he changed his mind. 

Daniel is one of 24 students from across Australia who began their studies in January at the academy’s Wellcamp campus, adjacent to Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport. Students, mostly aged between 18 and 25, are kept busy with lessons five days a week for the first five-week theory module. “The facilities were designed with the student in mind and, combined with the location, provide a focused learning environment,” Pierre says. “There are no distractions here.”

Although students take to the skies on solo flights of 5–10 minutes during the first module, it is during the second module that daily flying commences.  Flights and navigation sessions take off every morning at 7am in the school’s aircraft, a single-engine Diamond DA40 and a multi-engine DA42. “The academy has the advantage of being in an airport precinct without the congestion of city-based airspace,” Pierre says. 

This story excerpt is from Issue #131

Outback Magazine: June/July 2020