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USQ students take off at Qantas Group Pilot Academy

USQ Aviation students Thomas Fanshawe and Kimberley Pike with Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce at the announcement of the Qantas Group Pilot Academy.

Just over a year ago, Thomas Fanshawe and Kimberley Pike were posing for photos alongside Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce at Toowoomba’s Wellcamp Airport.

The University of Southern Queensland (USQ) Aviation students had attended the announcement of the first location of the Qantas Group Pilot Academy as participants of the Qantas Future Pilot Program.

Fifteen months on, the pair have returned to Wellcamp, but this time as students of the Academy.

The aspiring commercial pilots were named in the second intake of students to join the academy and were among the first to move into the new facilities on Monday (January 13), along with 21 other successful applicants.

The site includes purpose-built training facilities, student accommodation and a hangar.

Mr Fanshawe, 19, said he couldn’t have secured a place in the academy without USQ.

“It’s always been my goal to be a pilot for Qantas and I believe being accepted into this academy is my best chance to realise that goal,” the former Ipswich Grammar School student said.

“I have no doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t have this opportunity if it wasn’t for the support, knowledge and confidence I gained while studying at USQ.

“The efforts of my lecturers such as Professor Paul Bates have helped shape me into the kind of person the Qantas Group Pilot Academy was looking for.”

Mr Fanshawe and Miss Pike were chosen from thousands of applicants.

The 52-week course gives students access to world-class training and the chance to complete a number of qualifications, including a Commercial Pilot Licence, ready to commence a career in commercial or general aviation.

Miss Pike discovered her passion for flying when she was a little girl watching planes take off and land from the Sydney Airport’s viewing deck.

Raised in Forster, New South Wales, she moved to Queensland so she could study aviation at USQ Springfield.

The 21-year-old said she hoped being a part of the Academy would help fast-track her career and dream of becoming a pilot.

“I’m excited to be joining the Qantas Group Pilot Academy and learn what it takes to be a commercial airline pilot,” she said.

“Training at the Academy will hopefully open up a lot of doors and by the end of the 52 weeks, I hope to go straight into the cockpit of a QantasLink Dash 8.”

Mr Fanshawe and Miss Pike are just two of many USQ aviation students who have benefited from the Qantas Group Future Pilot Program. The program gives aviation students the opportunity to learn from and be mentored by experienced Qantas Group pilots during their university degree.

After Qantas Group announced Toowoomba as the first location of its Pilot Academy, USQ expanded its aviation program by offering a Bachelor of Aviation degree at its Toowoomba campus from February 2020.

Students will have the opportunity to operate an A320 flight simulator at the campus in the first year of study and learn from highly experience teaching staff, including current and recent airline, Australian Defence Force and instructor pilots and managers.

It’s estimated that almost 800,000 more pilots will be needed worldwide over the next 20 years, with around one third of them in the Asia Pacific.

To learn more about USQ’s Aviation program, visit

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