OBVIOUS CHOICE: Chrisair Aircraft Maintenance founder, pilot Neil Christensen, throws his support behind the bid to see the Qantas academy in Mackay.
OBVIOUS CHOICE: Chrisair Aircraft Maintenance founder, pilot Neil Christensen, throws his support behind the bid to see the Qantas academy in Mackay. Luke Moritmer

Mackay pilot backs bid for $20 million Qantas academy

ESTABLISHING the $20 million Qantas Group Pilot Academy in Mackay is a no-brainer, says a pilot who's been hitting the skies above the sugar city since the early 1960s.

Chrisair Aircraft Maintenance founder Neil Christensen has thrown his support behind Mackay's comprehensive bid to attract the sought-after academy.

The 75-year-old, who's worked as a commercial pilot, says it's clear Qantas should pick Mackay over other regional short-listers, such as Toowoomba and Tamworth.

"I used to be a flying instructor," Mr Christensen said.

"I've got about 1000 hours instructing here in Mackay. It's a great spot to fly out of.

"It's an excellent idea to have it here, because we've got a stable climate. We don't have too many bad, foggy days or anything like that."

The Town Beach resident also pointed to the relatively quiet airspace in the region.

"There's not a great lot of other traffic around, so it really is ideal for training. And we've got two runways," Mr Christensen said.

"The airport is also very close to town (Mackay city)."

Mr Christensen said differing levels of controlled airspace would allow pilots to stretch their wings, so to speak, and experience varying flight environments and regulations.

He added it would be helpful to have Mayor Greg Williamson and Mackay Airport chief executive Rob Porter pushing the bid, "walking the talk".

Cr Williamson is a long-time pilot and Mr Porter has experience overseeing similar bids, he said.

The owner of Chrisair, Mr Christensen's son Dan, has also backed the bid to see the academy in Mackay, hoping our abundant aviation facilities will prove a determining factor.

Collaborative effort

As part of a collaborative effort to secure the flagged Qantas Group Pilot Academy in Mackay, a brochure has been produced outlining what the city has to offer.

The 'Reaching for the Skies' document is signed off by Mackay Airport, Mackay Regional Council, Regional Development Australia, CQUniversity and Greater Whitsunday Alliance.

Here's just some of Mackay's listed benefits:

  • Airspace should not be limited in any material way.
  • Weather conditions provide for a minimum of 300 training days per annum based on historical climate averages.
  • Asphalt runway and taxiways, with a minimum length of 1300m and gull lighting capability for night and reduced visibility operations.
  • Hangars and covered facilities to accommodate maintenance and parking for up to 30 aircraft with the ability to grow to more than 50 aircraft.
  • Covered maintenance facility for schedule and unscheduled maintenance capable of housing multiple aircraft.
  • Facilities to accommodate at least two fixed training device simulators.

Back the bid: Use #MackayWantsYouQantas on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.