RMIT University will expand its well-known flight training school to Bendigo this year, giving more students the opportunity to become fully-qualified, industry-ready pilots.
Students based at the Bendigo airport hangar will take to the skies in several newly-acquired Cessna 172s with modern, glass cockpits and will have access to the RMIT aircraft fleet housed at the RAAF base in Point Cook, which remains the world’s oldest operating air force base.
Training routes will include regional and rural airstrips including Swan Hill, Mildura, Shepparton, Horsham and the Riverina in NSW.
RMIT’s expansion in to central Victoria follows Qantas’ announcement late last year, confirming the airline would begin Bendigo-Sydney flights from March.
The announcement also comes as welcome news for the sector, with the expanded operations also intended to help address a growing pilot shortage.
According to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), almost 800,000 pilots will be required over the next two decades, including more than 260,000 in the Asia-Pacific region alone.
RMIT Pro Vice-Chancellor Science, Engineering and Health and Vice-President Professor Peter Coloe said the University was excited to offer more students the opportunity to become pilots in the face of growing industry demand.
“We’re looking forward to giving more students from diverse backgrounds the opportunity to become fully-qualified pilots as we expand our flight training program into regional Victoria,” he said.
“Our Bendigo flight training program will give students an opportunity to pursue their dream of becoming a pilot without having to permanently move to Melbourne to gain in-demand aviation skills.”
City of Greater Bendigo Mayor Cr Margaret O’Rourke welcomed the announcement RMIT was establishing a flight school at Bendigo Airport.
“This is a fantastic outcome for Greater Bendigo and the wider region, and again demonstrates the many economic benefits that flow from investing in new infrastructure,” Cr O’Rourke said.
“Bendigo has more than 300 flyable days a year, so our new runway will be the perfect training ground for the pilots that will study with RMIT each year.
“This announcement also brings with it eight new jobs, so the City of Greater Bendigo is delighted more people will either come to or continue living in our community while they study or obtain ongoing work.”
The expansion is expected to support a growing global industry trend for pilots to have a tertiary qualification, such as a Bachelor of Applied Science (Aviation), embedded in their commercial pilot training.
RMIT Senior Manager – Flight and Aviation Mike Heffey said demand for the RMIT flight training school had continued to grow each year since it was established in 1994.
“We continue to see our graduates enter into a variety of different aviation careers both here in Australia and overseas.”