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Sod turning milestone for innovative $25M world-class aviation training facility in Bundaberg

Representatives from The Royal Flying Doctor Service (Queensland Section) (RFDS), QCoal Foundation, Federal Government and Bundaberg Council gathered on Friday 4 November to mark the start of construction on a new world-class aviation training facility in Bundaberg.

The RFDS has awarded local Bundaberg contractor, Murchie Constructions with the contract to build the facility, and today, ground was broken on the development.

The new facility will be constructed next to the existing RFDS Bundaberg Base and house the only full-motion Beechcraft King Air B350/360 Fusion flight training simulator outside the United States.

During construction, the project is predicted to inject more than $20 million into the local economy and support approximately 40 full-time equivalent jobs.

Once the facility is built, RFDS pilots from across Australia will spend at least two weeks at the facility each year, which equates to approximately 1,100 nights of accommodation in the region each year, injecting a further $6 million into the local economy.

The facility will also enable other non-RFDS pilots to use the B350/360 Fusion simulator for their endorsements or recurrent training.

RFDS (Queensland Section) Chief Executive Officer Meredith Staib said today’s sod turning was an important milestone for the Flying Doctor.

“I’m incredibly excited to see work commence on our new aviation training facility which will help support the ongoing training of our highly skilled pilots, as well as pilots from across Australia and Asia,” Ms Staib said.

“This purpose-built facility will play a vital role as we head towards 100 years of the Flying Doctor. Having innovative aviation and training technology on our doorstep will help ensure the continuity of world-class training for our pilots and crew – allowing them to continue to provide the finest care to patients right across Queensland.

“The new facility simply wouldn’t be possible without the support of our long-standing partners QCoal Foundation, as well as the Federal Government and Bundaberg Regional Council – we’re enormously thankful for your support.”

QCoal Foundation Chief Executive Officer Sylvia Bhatia said the QCoal Foundation recognised the significant value of this project for the RFDS and for the Bundaberg region.

“We know diversification is key to ensuring the long-term resilience of regional communities and this project will drive that resilience in the Bundaberg region,” Ms Bhatia said.

“We are also pleased to see a local contractor awarded this project and look forward to watching the progress of construction.”

Catherine King, Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government Minister shared “The Australian Government is proud to be contributing nearly $15 million to make this critical project a reality.

“This will support the essential medical services of the RFDS by providing a world-class facility for training their pilots.

“It will also deliver a broader economic boost to Bundaberg and surrounds by supporting local jobs and attracting these pilots to visit, stay and shop in the region, while strengthening our domestic medical aviation capacity.”

Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey said Council was pleased to support the new Bundaberg RFDS Aviation Training Facility through the donation of land adjoining its aeromedical base.
“It is an incredible boon for Bundaberg to be chosen as the location for this new flight simulator which will be the first of its kind to be constructed in the southern hemisphere,” Mayor Dempsey said.

“It’s going to create jobs here locally during construction and will attract at least 81 pilots every year to come here for a minimum of two weeks to do their training and get a taste of our beautiful region.

“As a former state minister, it has long been my vision to see the Bundaberg Region established as a hub for emergency services training. With the upgrades to ambulance and fire services in recent years, along with the delivery of the aeromedical base and now this flight simulator, it’s fantastic to see these ambitions being realised.”

The land gifted from Council from within its aviation and aerospace precinct was valued at $405,000.

The Bundaberg Aviation Training Facility is expected to be completed and ready for training by the end of 2023.