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Virgin Australia to open pilot training centre in Tamworth

Virgin Australia has been selected as the preferred airline group to open a pilot training centre at Tamworth Regional airport.

The carrier will now move towards securing a full agreement with the Tamworth Regional Council on establishing its “Aviation Centre of Excellence”, with details to be announced in the coming months.

“Our industry is currently facing a global pilot shortage and this world-class facility will develop a pipeline of skilled pilots funnelling into the Virgin Australia Group and other airlines around the world,” says Virgin chief executive John Borghetti.

It appears likely that the centre will serve Virgin’s cadet pilot programme, and may also provide training for engineers and other skilled aviation personnel.

Tamworth, in regional New South Wales, has long been a key aviation training centre. Since 1999, it has been home to the Australian Defence Force’s Basic Flying Training School operated by BAE Systems, but that is set to close at the end of 2019 as it transitions to a new training arrangement with Lockheed Martin based at East Sale.

CAE Oxford Aviation Academy agreed last year to lease some of BAE Systems’ facilities at Tamworth to meet its expansion plans.

Last month, Qantas announced plans to open its first pilot academy at Toowoomba’s Wellcamp airport in mid-2019.

Under that agreement, the airport will develop facilities for the academy, while L3 Commercial Aviation has been selected as the training provider.

It will train pilots for Qantas and is also expected to cater to the third-party training market.

Qantas is planning to announce a second training academy location by the end of the year.

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