New flight school to boost South Coast economy, jobs and skills base
The new recreational flight school planned by Sports Aviation Flight College Australia (SAA) for Frogs Hollow near Bega promises to bring a host of community and economic benefits to the regional centre of the NSW South Coast.
The flight school will offer experience, training and qualifications to aspiring young Chinese and broader Asia-Pacific recreational pilots, giving them a lead-in to a flying profession which is in particularly high and steeply rising demand in China since that country deregulated its air space in 2015, allowing private recreational aviation for the first time.
The training courses developed by SAA not only focus on pilot training, but also provide the necessary skills for a wide range of aviation related jobs that support the industry.
At every possible opportunity, this new college will use locally sourced materials and labour, to support the local economy that it will be a part of, says Sports Aviation Australia CEO, Mr Mitch Boyle, who is not only passionate about aviation and a qualified instructor, but was also a resident of Merimbula on the South Coast for over eight years while studying and earning his flight qualifications.
“The locally sourced items include everything from the labour used to build the facilities, to the building materials themselves and the staff that will work there. The kitchens and engineering workshops will require specialist equipment, which the college will endeavor to source from local suppliers. Once completed, all cleaning, maintenance and repair work will create more local jobs,” he said
“The South Coast is a beautiful place to live and we want these young students to fully engage with the local community, and make it a destination they recommend to family and friends as well as return to themselves.”
“A lot of the employment opportunities here are seasonal, so having additional stable year-round jobs will help retain some of the region’s talented young people, who would otherwise have to move away to seek other job opportunities.”
Infrastructure and equipment
- Local construction businesses will build the site
- Core building materials to be sourced locally
- Specialist equipment for kitchens and engineering workshops to be sourced locally wherever possible
- Cleaning and ongoing maintenance to be sourced locally
- Planes to be sourced from New Zealand, Newcastle and Cowra
- Direct employment, including 70 jobs in the first year, with an additional 36 jobs each year as the college expands
- Once the college is fully operational, there will be over 200 staff directly employed by the college. The majority of these will be on salaries well above the region’s average
- Hundreds of other jobs will be created, because if more people move to the region for the direct jobs, they will have to be looked after by the town in terms of accommodation, food and leisure, so more money will be spent in the South Coast towns they move to.
- TAFE jobs will be created for the local Bega TAFE, because many of the staff will need training prior to working at the college. This includes office, kitchen, catering, grounds, assembly and maintenance staff.
- The students will be living in the region while completing their training, and will spend on local businesses including the airport as they fly in and out and discover local travel, entertainment and recreational facilities
- Once the students return home, they may also recommend the area to their friends and family, providing a valuable boost to tourism in the region, which will further support local businesses
All students will be equipped with an iPad that contains all their training, course notes and maps. Each aircraft is fitted with a GoPro and cultural days will be filmed too, so the students can share their experiences of the beautiful NSW South Coast with their home countries.
- Scholarships will be provided to local high school graduates to become recreational flight instructors
- Scholarships will be merit based, with training taking place at the flight college
- Students will be taken to experience Australian culture. This will include local attractions like Potoroo Palace, a not-for-profit native animal sanctuary in Merimbula, or the ‘On the Perch’ Aviary in Kalaru.
SAA will make every effort to engage with the local indigenous community to provide employment opportunities wherever possible.
Sports aviation believes the SAA College is the only recreational flight college designed to specifically address the needs of the Chinese and broader Asia-Pacific recreational aviation industry and the first of its type for Australia.
To provide a solution that caters to the Chinese market’s needs, the course is to be run as a ‘package’ for each student.
Each package includes:
• Assistance with Student Visa
• Return Flights to Australia
• World recognised 7-week Aviation English course
• 4-week RAA flight and flight theory syllabus
• All required syllabus, learning material and flight training gear
• Meals and accommodation
• Recreational Aviation Australia (RAA) membership
• Aircraft maintenance workshop introductory accreditation course
• Aircraft assembly introductory accreditation course
• Flight experience on three different aircraft
• Australian cultural fun days to experience the district
• Recognised RAA pilot certificate and recreational pilot’s licence and flight college certificates for aviation English, aircraft maintenance and aircraft assembly.
The flight college will have all of the student accommodation and teaching facilities built on-site. These facilities will include classrooms for the aviation English and flight theory, individual rooms and amenities for each student.
Sports Aviation Australia flight schools will be overseen by a qualified and experienced Chief Flying Instructor (CFI). The CFI’s are often supported by Senior Instructors (SI) who are similarly skilled and able to provide the highest standard of training.
The aircraft used predominately throughout flight training is the Bantam (top). This plane is a good all-rounder and is manufactured by a NZ company called MicroAviation. SAA has negotiated exclusively this aircraft for flight college training and post-study sales into China. The aircraft will be assembled at the flight college’s aircraft assembly facility at Frogs Hollow. Other aircraft deployed by SAA include the Australian-manufactured trike, left, on which students will receive an introductory course. The third type is the more traditional general aviation type of aircraft, the Brumby, right, which will be used for more advanced RPL training. The Brumby is an Australian-designed plane manufactured in Cowra, NSW.
To ensure a consistent and safe experience, all RAA schools are subject to compliance audits undertaken by RAA. The schools operate a variety of aircraft, which are also required to undergo a rigorous maintenance program to ensure reliability and safety for all RAA members and the community of which they are part.