Bacchus set to take-off with $6 million pilot school investment

Bacchus Marsh Aerodrome’s pilot school could soon become an international educational attraction if a $6 million overhaul is given the green light by the Moorabool Shire Council. 

Plans: Bacchus Marsh Aerodrome could soon be an international renowned home for trainee pilots.

Plans: Bacchus Marsh Aerodrome could soon be an international renowned home for trainee pilots.

Last month an amended application was lodged with council to develop a new 168-bed accommodation facility at the airport 4.5 kilometres outside of Bacchus Marsh to encourage an increase in patronage.  

The proposal would see TVSA Pilot Training, who currently operate out of the Parwan facility, construct three new accommodation buildings as well as a new training centre.  The build would allow up to 150 students and 40 staff to live on site.  

TVSA Pilot Training chief executive Daniel Pearson said eventually about $20 million would be invested in the facility.  He said the larger training centre would have significant economic benefits for the area.

The 37-year-old company has trained more than 1600 students and offers 34 courses from its Parwan base. 

Supportive: Moorabool mayor Paul Tatchell says increased airport activity would be a boon for the shire.

Supportive: Moorabool mayor Paul Tatchell says increased airport activity would be a boon for the shire.

“We would be in the top employer employers in the shire (if the permit is granted),” Mr Pearson said.  “We’ve got about 16 full time staff today which will go up to about 60 all up when we’re at capacity.” 

The school currently has a small on-site residential facility with six rooms for staff and students.  Most students either opt to stay in the township of Bacchus Marsh or commute from Melbourne. 

Pilot courses typically run between 12 and 18 months.   

Moorabool Shire mayor Paul Tatchell said while the permit could not be signed off on until a new lease arrangement was finalised between council and Bacchus Marsh Aerodrome Management Inc., he was broadly supportive of increased activity at the airport.   

Regional strength: Hundreds of international trainee pilots are also based at the Ballarat Airport.

Regional strength: Hundreds of international trainee pilots are also based at the Ballarat Airport.

“I think it’s just good for the economic development of the region to have a thriving airport,” Cr Tatchell said.

The development would form part of the Parwan Employment Precinct, which Moorabool Shire Council has long touted as a future economic driver of the municipality. 

The upgrades would also cement the region’s reputation as a hub for pilot training, sitting alongside the existing program run at Ballarat Airport.

Singapore-owned ST Aerospace Academy has been training pilots in Ballarat since September 2007, majority of whom come from Asia to complete their studies.