Australia's Rex opens new pilot academy in Wagga Wagga

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Australian regional airline Regional Express (Rex) has opened its pilot academy at a new campus in Wagga Wagga Airport in New South Wales.

The Australian Airline Pilot Academy (AAPA), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the airline, was previously based in Mangalore, Victoria. Construction started on the A$12 million ($10.2 million) new campus in Wagga Wagga in July 2009.

"Wagga Wagga can be proud that it is now firmly placed on the world map of aviation with the establishment of a first class airline pilot training facility which we believe will rank amongst the best in the world," says the AAPA's chairman Jim Davis.

The school will be able to produce more than 200 professional pilots a year, and has a fleet of Piper Warriors and Piper Seminoles, says a Rex spokeswoman.

"The Academy features complete and integrated facilities right at the airport and a campus that is designed to cater for the complete academic and physical well being of the cadets. It boasts a swimming pool, gym and outdoor sports facilities alongside modern classrooms and well equipped individual bedrooms. Also in a few short months the airport will have a fully operational Instrument Landing System (ILS) the same as those at any major international airport," says Davis.

Australia's government is providing A$1.1 million to help the Wagga Wagga City Council install the ILS, which will allow the airport to remain open during adverse weather conditions.

"The installation of ILS - a project which all up will cost A$1.63 million - will support 15 jobs, with the new world class academy expected to create a further 75 ongoing jobs within the local community," says transport minister Anthony Albanese, who opened the pilot academy in a ceremony.