Students from TAFE NSW Padstow Campus are soaring towards becoming fully-fledged pilots after their historic graduation.
The ceremony marked their achievement in completing the Diploma in Aviation in both Flight Instructor and Instrument Flight Operations.
The Minister for Regional Development, Skills and Small Business, John Barilaro was on hand to give the first intake of TAFE graduates their wings.
"I'm proud to meet these graduates today, they should take great pride in their achievement of making it through a challenging and testing course,” Mr Barilaro said.
"Today's graduates are joining a growing list of TAFE students who will embark on successful and exciting careers in the aviation industry, where there is an ever-increasing demand.
The course commenced in April this year and the graduation at the Aerospace Centre within Padstow TAFE was held among a backdrop of retired small planes and helicopters.
Head teacher of Aeroskills, Stephen Dawkins, said it has never been a better time to enter the growing aviation industry.
“The projected demand for qualified pilots and instructors in the Asia-Pacific region is very strong, demand for air cargo will double in the next 20 years requiring many more pilots for all regions,” he said.
TAFE NSW has collaborated with Pacific Flight Services (PFS), a renowned flying school at Bankstown Airport, to deliver the theory and practical components of the courses.
“The partnership between TAFE and Pacific Flight Services is providing an exciting career path for young Australian pilots into the rapidly expanding global aviation market,” Mr Dawkins said.
There will be an additional 558,000 commercial pilots required by 2034 - TAFE Aviation course commenced in April this year.
“They learn to fly from Bankstown Airport and also have access to the latest cutting-edge full motion flight simulator as they learn everything from the pre-flight briefing operating through the controls and systems,” Mr Dawkins added.
“They spend valuable time on the tarmac and in the air via Bankstown Airport which they love - it’s great to see the excitement on their faces the first time they take off in an aeroplane.”
Aviation students also undertake maintenance instruction at Padstow College, which is a CASA Part 147 Maintenance Training Organisation - a unique and advantageous to TAFE students and is not readily available at other flying schools.”
“Students engage with a range of aircraft equipment at TAFE Padstow College without the normal airport security restrictions that limit such experiences,” Mr Dawkins revealed.
“TAFE NSW is passionate about providing excellence in education and training, the Diploma in Aviation courses is another fine example of our innovative and modern course delivery – what a thrilling way to study,” Mr Barilaro said.
“Studying aviation at TAFE NSW means students have nationally recognised training. TAFE NSW has built a reputation for responding effectively to the needs of industry through innovative partnerships and quality education and training.”
Neil Platten is a TAFE NSW aviation student who recognised the opportunity to enhance his career prospects by gaining his flight instructor.
TAFE enabled Neil to undertake his training in the shortest possible timeframe and get on with his career as a successful professional pilot.
“I originally completed my private pilot’s licence at PFS - as always, the teachers at TAFE and the staff at PFS were helpful and supportive, and encouraged us to work to the highest standards,” he said.
With women representing just three per cent of airline pilots worldwide, Kristen Gabrielli is the only female student currently studying aviation at TAFE but will be followed by six more female students in the next intake starting on 11 October.
She had completed the private pilot licence and has now enrolled in the Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) course. She is aiming to complete her IFO training before pursuing an exciting career in the airlines as a captain.
“I’m only 19 years old, but I know exactly what I want to do in life. I’ve always been attracted to the aviation industry and I’m working hard to achieve the ultimate goal of ne day being a captain. The sky’s the limit as they say!”