A Cathay Pacific passenger jet aeroplane coming in to land at the Cairns Airport, bringing international tourists into the Far North Queensland region. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE
A Cathay Pacific passenger jet aeroplane coming in to land at the Cairns Airport, bringing international tourists into the Far North Queensland region. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE

Labor pledge gives Cairns aviation hub boost

A FLIGHT simulator will form part of a $10 million Labor commitment to help Cairns take off as a world-renowned destination for training pilots.

Deputy Labor Leader Tanya Plibersek, who is expected to be in Cairns today, will be announcing the funding pledge to help deliver the final stage of CQUniversity's Asia-Pacific Aviation Hub.

Labor Deputy Opposition leader Tanya Plibersek. Pic Colin Murty The Australian.
Labor Deputy Opposition leader Tanya Plibersek. Pic Colin Murty The Australian.

The funding, also backed by Labor's infrastructure, transport, cities and regional development spokesman Anthony Albanese, will go towards a state-of-the-art flight simulator, aviation sensors and tracking equipment, as well as new aircraft hangars and training facilities at Cairns Airport.

An aerospace lab would also be established to lead research into pilot fatigue and air traffic control.

Cairns Airport control tower. PICTURE: STEWART McLEAN
Cairns Airport control tower. PICTURE: STEWART McLEAN

The university has already invested $4.8 million to establish the first stage of its aviation hub, which will be welcoming its first students at the airport facility this week.

"Our investment will mean Cairns can train up to 150 aviation students a year," Ms Plibersek said. "Who wouldn't want to learn to fly in paradise?"

The centre is a key component of CQUniversity's $54.7 million Cairns Community Impact Plan, which is designed to stimulate new industries in the Far North.

A recent Boeing study has shown the worldwide airline industry will need 600,000 pilots during the next 20 years.

CQUniversity vice-chancellor Nick Klomp said Cairns had the potential to become a leader for world-class aviation training in the Asia Pacific region.

"The city is a strategic gateway to the Asia Pacific and already plays a key role in airborne freight and passenger traffic with direct links to China, South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines and New Zealand," he said.

"CQUniversity is committed to being the first university to offer tertiary level aviation qualifications in Cairns and to provide a clear pathway for students to earn a commercial pilot's licence."

Labor's candidate for Leichhardt, Elida Faith. PICTURE: STEWART MCLEAN
Labor's candidate for Leichhardt, Elida Faith. PICTURE: STEWART MCLEAN

PILOT SHORTAGE

Labor's candidate for Leichhardt Elida Faith says regional airlines - including some in the Far North - have been struggling to attract new pilots.

She said Cairns needed to take advantage of the worldwide demand for the aviation occupation.

"The project will support up to 70 jobs during the construction phase, and around 15 ongoing jobs," she said.