• Flight training has been described as the bedrock of aviation in Australia at all levels. (Steve Hitchen)
    Flight training has been described as the bedrock of aviation in Australia at all levels. (Steve Hitchen)

A new aviation association has been formed to support and advocate for the flight training industry.

Announced today, the new association is called the Australian Flight Training Industry Association (AFTIA) and has been formed in response to what has been seen as under-representation of the sector in Canberra.

AFTIA will operate as an incorporated association run by a board. The chair of that board is Moorabbin Flying Services' Maddy Johnson.

"Currently, the flight training sector is fragmented and has no representative body to speak collectively for all levels of aviation training from high capacity regular public transport (RPT) to the local flying school level," Johnson said.

"This has resulted in a disconnect between industry and government at a time of regulatory reform when FTOs [Flight Training Organisations] need strong advocacy with the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) and other aviation organisations and bodies.

"AFTIA has been formed to take a strategic view of flight training with the aim of representing all areas of flight training as a single voice."

According to AFTIA, the association aims to become the principle body for both CASA and the department to engage on matter relating to flight training, and provide a conduit for FTOs and other stakeholders to give voice to concerns about flight training.

AFTIA also recognises that the flight industry is in challenging times, and will benefit from having an umbrella organisation to help with recovery.

"Competition in aviation has always been robust and the uncertainly of COVID has increased the pressure," AFTIA states. "The ability of the industry to recover is still uncertain, and the path forward is not yet clear.

"Recovery may be relatively fast, but matching trained pilots with demand may be difficult without a collaborative approach, which could put the long-term sustainability of the industry at serious risk."

AFTIA will initially concentrate on issues such as:

  • pilot shortages needing an influx of overseas-trained pilots to fill
  • regulatory change and reform
  • foreign-backed FTOs influencing the industry
  • the impact of decisions made at airline level cascading down to FTOs
  • airline recruiting instructors leaving gaps in capability at FTOs.

The AFTIA board includes several of the most experience flight trainers in Australia, with Par Avion's Shannon Wells, Airspeed Aviation's Ben Wyndham, Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society Matthew Gray and Tim Holland of Flight Options taking positions alongside Johnson.

AFTIA says it will be developing a prospectus for members in the coming weeks.

More information on AFTIA is available through:

Chair – Maddy Johnson (VIC)  maddy.johnson@aftia.org.au
Secretary – Ben Wyndham (NSW)  ben.wyndham@aftia.org.au

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