Qantas pilot swoops in to help Ballina flight students
IT IS no secret that the aviation sector has continued to be undermined by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The national carrier for Australia, Qantas, faced the difficult decision to cut flights and stand down thousands of staff.
But for Ballina flight training academy, White Star Aviation, it created an opportunity for their students to learn from an active Qantaslink pilot, James Graham.
“James contacted me about four weeks ago when QantasLink announced they were ceasing flying due to COVID-19,” White Star Aviation director Nathan James said.
“Many instructors nowadays have begun their careers as instructors and have not yet gained any experience in other commercial operations themselves leaving them unable to offer students first-hand practical insights into these operations.”
Mr Graham, who began flying at the age of 15, said while the change had been sudden, the team at Qantas was very strong.
“From the pilot of the smallest plane in the Qantas Group, the Dash 8, to the pilot of the largest, the Airbus A380, and then over to the cabin crew, engineers, ramp staff, support staff, admin… we all have a passion for Qantas, and want to see it weather this storm,” he said.
“Saying that, the love and concern we all have for each others’ health and wellbeing is inspirational.
“For a majority of pilots their income is now suspended until they are required again by Qantas.
“The uncertainty as to when that may be is something which weighs heavily on us all, and not knowing what the recovery landscape looks like makes it difficult to plan for contingencies - something pilots do every day.”
For Mr Graham, the experience of teaching students to be their best was an incredible reward.
“Seeing the transition of a person from inexperienced and unskilled to a competent and safe pilot able to commence their own career in aviation,” he said.
“I maintain contact with many of those students right through their career, and it is extremely satisfying to have been a part of another person achieving their dreams.”