Qantas has announced its Engineering Academy sites and CEO Alan Joyce is calling for more female recruits to join the maintenance team.
Enticing skilled people back into aviation or recruiting new ones post-COVID has been challenging for airlines and maintenance organizations globally. The shortage of trained engineers kept aircraft and engines on the ground just as demand went through the roof.
On Tuesday in Melbourne, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce announced that the new Qantas Group Engineering Academy will operate from two campuses, one in Melbourne and the other in Brisbane. The training facilities will be close to Melbourne and Brisbane Airports, where Qantas and Jetstar have significant engineering operations.
Joyce made the announcement from the Qantas Engineering Base at Melbourne Airport and started by explaining why the airline group needed hundreds of new engineers, telling the audience, which included Simple Flying:
"First of all we are growing our business quite significantly and to grow it we need 8,500 people. To grow Project Sunrise, to grow our domestic operations and to grow our regional operations we're going to need a significant number of new engineers and this academy will help facilitate that."
Qantas has embarked on its most extensive fleet renewal ever, with new Airbus types on order for Project Sunrise flights and to replace the current domestic and regional fleets of Boeing 717 and 737 single-aisle aircraft. Qantas has already started retiring some of the 717s and will begin replacing them with Airbus A220s later this year.
Simple Flying asked Joyce about the future of the Boeing 737-800s, and he said they would be replaced by Airbus A320neo family aircraft, albeit over an extended time frame. He replied:
"The 737s will be replaced by the A320neo over a decade as those aircraft we have on order become available, so we will have the 737s for a decade while the A320s gradually take over.
"We did a competition between the 737 MAX and the A320neo and the NEO won. We think the NEO is a better aircraft with better performance so we're very confident it is the right aircraft choice for what we need."
The academy will be a partnership with Qantas and Aviation Australia, Australia's leading aviation training provider for various roles across the sector. Starting in 2025, the two sites will train up to 300 engineers annually in classroom and real-world maintenance environments.
Over the next decade, Qantas needs to find around 8,500 recruits, and to find those talented people; it needs to recruit from across the total population, particularly into traditionally male-dominated areas.
Since the Engineering Academy was announced in March, Qantas has received around 1000 registrations of interest, despite it being another two years before the program starts. Addressing the need to cast the net as wide as possible, Joyce added:
"Currently around 7% of our engineers are female and we want to be able to attract people from the entire population so we can attract the best people. Of the 1000 applicants around 16% are females so we still have a lot of work ahead to get that where we want it to be."
Qantas said it would hire around 200 graduates annually, with the others available to the local aviation industry, including defense and general aviation maintenance providers. All trainees will be employees of the Qantas Group and will be paid as they train.
Qantas currently spends around two million hours annually training its people, and the academy will build a pipeline of talent for years to come, just as will the new Qantas Group Pilot Academy, now being developed in Sydney and due to open early in 2024.
With a new aircraft arriving (on average) every three weeks for the next three years, the 8,500 recruits are needed for various operational roles across the Qantas group. The spread includes 1,600 positions for pilots, 4,500 cabin crew, 800 engineers, and 1,600 other operational roles.
What do you think of Qantas choosing the A320neo Family over the 737 MAX? Let us know in the comments.
Journalist – A professional aviation journalist writing across the industry spectrum. Michael uses his MBA and corporate business experience to go behind the obvious in search of the real story. A strong network of senior aviation contacts mixed with a boyhood passion for airplanes helps him share engaging content with fellow devotees. Based in Melbourne, Australia.