Australian Cessna distributor Aeromil Pacific is establishing two pilot training schools this year in a bid to revitalise the country's general aviation industry and create Cessna buyers of the future.
The schools will be at Sydney Bankstown airport and Aeromil's base at Sunshine Coast airport in Queensland. Applications have been submitted to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and Aeromil hopes to receive its licence by June, says managing director Steve Padgett.
"The enthusiasm for flying has dropped off but there's still a lot of people who would love to fly and we want to attract that new generation," Padgett says.
Aeromil plans to operate about 10 Cessna 172s and 20 Cessna 162 Skycatcher light sport aircraft at the schools, Padgett says, adding that the plan is to establish the schools first and then build them up. "We want to get the philosophy right first, establish it and grow," Padgett says, adding that the move is "not an insignificant investment".
Padgett says the idea arose from Aeromil's "Cessna in the city" promotion, when it opened a store in Sydney's central business district to sell Cessna aircraft and its services. That promotion resulted in "a couple of hundred" people signing up saying they would like to learn to fly. Padgett says the intention of the new project is to "develop new [Cessna] buyers of the future".
For the first time, Aeromil brought a Cessna Citation CJ4 and Skycatcher to the Australian International Air Show at Avalon in early March. The eight-passenger CJ4, which has a range of more than 2,000nm (3,710km) and a top speed of 453kt (839km/h), is due to be presented at demonstrations around the country following the show.
Aeromil Pacific has already sold 30 Skycatchers in Australia, Padgett says, adding: "If we had 100 we could sell 100."
The two-passenger, all-metal Skycatcher has a range of 400nm, a top speed of 118kt, a maximum take-off weight of 599kg (1,320lb) and features a Garmin G300 glass cockpit.