Friday, July 27, 2012

Chopperline Flight Training Academy forced to close doors - Maryborough, South East Queensland, Australia

A FLIGHT training school in Maryborough has had to close its doors, leaving a hole in the region's aviation industry strategy. 

Chopperline Flight Training Academy has advised the council it will not be renewing its lease over the Maryborough Airport Terminal.

It is believed the difficult economic climate combined with the high costs of learning to fly a helicopter were factors in the decision.

"Learning to fly an aircraft is a bit of a luxury expense," said Fraser Coast Regional Councillor Rolf Light.

The costs for Chopperline training ranges from about $52,000 to $62,000.

Cr Light, who holds the Aviation portfolio, said it was sad to see Chopperline go.

Chopperline told the council it was appreciative of its support during operations, and advised a return to Maryborough was "definitely included in its long-term plans" should the economic climate improve.

When the flight school opened last year, it was heralded as a key component in the Fraser Coast's overall aviation strategy - using Maryborough Airport for training and maintenance operations while the passenger services operated out of Hervey Bay.

At the time, Cr Gerard O'Connell said he hoped its arrival would attract more flight training schools to the airport.

Now, Cr Light said the departure of Chopperline opens the door to look at other options for the airport.

"We can revisit the idea of using the terminal for commercial operations," Cr Light said.

Cr Light pointed to the recent success of local charter operators, South Pacific Airways, as the way forward for Maryborough Airport.

South Pacific Airways offers charter flights for up to five passengers at a time throughout Australia.

Using the terminal as a base for Fly In, Fly Out operations for workers in the resource sector was another possibility.

Chopperline was unable to comment on the closure of the school by the time of publication.

Chopperline Chronology

June 2011 - Chopperline flight school opened in Maryborough by former Ironman, Grant Kenny

January 2012 - Mr Kenny sells the flight school after little more than six months.

July 2012 - The new owner of the flight school informs council the lease over the Maryborough Airport Terminal will not be renewed.


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