From small beginnings…

The UNSW School of Aviation started in 1995 with only 11 students. Today, it has over 500 students currently enrolled and a growing network of over 2,000 Alumni across the world.  Many of its graduates hold significant roles in major airlines and aviation companies across the globe. 2020 marks the School’s 25th anniversary.  Here’s a bit of a retrospective on the Sydney Basin’s only tertiary School of Aviation whose graduates have been impacting the global Aviation industry for over two decades.

1993 In the early 90s, Professor Jason Middleton was in the UNSW School of Maths doing Oceanography, having built his academic career in environmental fluid mechanics and dynamics of atmospheres and oceans. However, he had also been a commercial pilot since 1973, with a passion for aviation. During an overseas recruitment trip in the early 90s Professor Middleton encountered strong interest from people looking for international university-based flying training. At the time, aviation in Australia was also picking up steam and it was clear that there was a gap in the market for professional graduates with degrees in specific aviation knowledge.

Planning for the Aviation Program at UNSW began in 1993 as an initiative of three faculties.  It was decided that the Bachelor of Aviation would need two streams, a flying stream and a management stream, with a common core of courses supporting both streams. Captain John Faulkner, then of Qantas Airways Ltd joined the development committee, which also comprised Professor Jason Middleton, Mr John Page and Ms Carmel Desmarchelier.  Having made a decision that the University would manage flying training standards from the outset, the University employed a Director of Flight Operations, Mr Greg Clynick.



The Flying Training Unit in the 90s.    			Kensington Campus
                                The Flying Training Unit in the 90s.                                                                          Kensington Campus


Building the Flying Operations Unit

The Aviation ProgramGreg Clynick had been a military pilot and charter business jet pilot. He recalls he was hired as a Standards Officer but ended up building the whole flying operation. “We started with humble beginnings, the entire asset portfolio was two coffee cups from Kmart and it went from there. I had a year of building and recruiting the course.” 

The Aviation Program opened its doors to students in 1995 enrolling 11 students, 6 in Management and 5 in Flying.

“Five or six years into it we really started getting good student numbers. The management stream had evolved into its own thing. We got to the point where I could see the momentum at the Flying Unit really building for the next ten years under Brian Horton and Malcolm Good. The growth from the beginning to where it got to was wonderful. I still feel a bit of ownership of that place,” he said.

Now retired, Greg currently lives in Fingal Bay under the flight path of Williamtown. He says whenever an aeroplane flies over, he shakes his fist at the sky and tells them to get a proper job because he knows just how much fun they’re having. “Good on ‘em,” he says.


                               First Flying Graduates 1995 – 1997                                                                                     1996 – 1998


Dick Smith
                                                              2015 Flying Graduates with Special Guest Speaker Dick Smith at Wings Night


The first flying graduate cohort in 1997 numbered just five. By 2015 it was 24. In 2020, over 40 flying students will graduate with a CPL and Instrument Rating to be awarded their Wings as commercial pilots.

The annual Wings Night was introduced in 1997 to mark the awarding of the UNSW Wings and the Professional Pilot Certificate to the graduates of the Flying degrees. The event includes presentations from staff, students and a special guest speaker. Outstanding pilots are often awarded special prizes from industry bodies, such as the Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA) and The Australian Air Pilots Mutual Benefit Fund (AFAP MBF).


From a Department to a School

1996  The Department of Aviation was formed as an independent academic Department within the then Faculty of Science and Technology. Plans were made to employ academic and general staff personnel.  Professor Jason Middleton was appointed Head of Department and Mr Rodger Robertson, who had been Director of Corporate Planning at Qantas, joined shortly thereafter as a Senior Lecturer (although he had been lecturing casually in 1995).  In 1998 the Department had obtained an Air Operator’s Certificate and flight training continued entirely under University authority, whereas previously flying training was supplied by a private provider. Planning began for academic offerings to include postgraduate coursework (Master’s Degree, Graduate Diploma and Graduate Certificate) and these programs were approved and fully operating by 1999 with a limited range of courses.        

Graham Braithwaite joined the academic staff as a Lecturer in Human Factors and Air Traffic Management and instructional staff at Bankstown Airport included Mr Ben Young, one of the Department’s first graduates and Mr Len Sales. To the end, although over 90 years of age and supposedly retired long ago, his love of aviation had seen Mr Len Sales regularly contribute to the Air Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL) Theory training at Bankstown. Vale to a legend, October 2020.

Rodger Robertson
                  Mr Rodger Robertson                                                    Mr Ben Young                                                                   Mr Len Sales


Building the Academic Program

Over the next decade, the school’s academic program matured with the addition of academic experts, including Dr Richard Wu, Dr Boyd Falconer and Dr Steve Shorrock and three general staff housed within the Old Main Building on the UNSW main campus in Kensington.  Greg Clynick was succeeded by Patrick Watson as Director of Flight Operations. Undergraduate student numbers exceeded 170 and postgraduate coursework programs boasted over 150 students and graduated alumni over 300. Short courses in accident investigation and human resources were proving popular with students travelling from as far afield as Vietnam and Hong Kong for the 5-day programs.

 Dr Brett Molesworth, specialising in Human Factors joined in 2006, and Prof Ann Williamson in 2008, extending the School’s expertise in aviation safety. Mr Brian Horton, a former commercial Captain with over 35 years’ flying experience including a period as Training Captain with East-West Airlines and Authorised Testing Officer (ATO) for CASA joined as Director of Flight Operations and Chief Pilot in 2006, and Mr Malcolm Good became Chief Flying Instructor in 2010. New academic staff member Mr Ian Douglas (Airline Strategies) joined in 2008, Dr Tay Koo (Aviation Tourism) in 2010, and Dr Carlo Caponecchia (Human Factors and Occupational Safety) in 2011.

Dr Brett Molesworth
         Dr Richard Wu                              Dr Brett Molesworth                     Dr Ian Douglas                       Dr Carlo Caponecchia                         Dr Tay Koo                               

A number of senior industry personnel also contributed to teaching at both undergraduate and postgraduate level, a structure that has continued to be a major strength of the School to this day. Industry experts extended the range of subjects taught to cover such areas as Aviation Security, Aircraft Accident Investigation, Law & Regulation, Air Traffic Management, and other courses with industry relevance. The casual academic staff included industry heavyweights like Dr Paul Hooper, Dr Warren Mundy, Mr Andrew Drysdale, Mr Garry Saunders, Mr Ron Rosalky and Mr Nathan Miller. A strong Industry Advisory Committee comprised of senior industry managers and staff was set up to ensure continued communication with industry so that the programs are well-placed to serve future employer needs.

2010 saw developments with the delivery of a new fleet of Diamond DA40 and DA42 aeroplanes for training, and the commissioning of a scanning lidar into the Piper Seminole.  Brian Horton, Director of Flight Operations said, “These aeroplanes will provide our students with one of the world’s best training environments, consistent with our objective of being the leading aviation university in the Australasian region.” (Australian Aviation, 2010)New office premises at Building 570 Bankstown Airport were occupied and Building 544 (the hangar) was refurbished.  Additional research facilities included a research flight simulator, two driving simulators and an instrumented car. In 2010, postgraduates numbered 26 and Bachelor degree graduates numbered 80.

                                                                            VH UNF – one of 6 new Diamond DA40s purchased in 2010


Wings Night 2010 special guest speaker was Capt Barry Jackson, President of the Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA) and a Qantas B747 Captain gave an inspiring presentation about his career, which began flying commercially in New Guinea. His briefing on the new aviation technologies excited many.

2011 In January 2011, the Department was renamed the School of Aviation by the UNSW Executive, in recognition of its substantive nature and prospects.

Within the School, a new research group, the Transport and Road Safety Research Group (TARS) was formed in March with significant base funding from the NSW State Government. Professor Ann Williamson took on the Director’s role and by the end of 2011 TARS had obtained over $1million of external research funding.

June 2011 saw the School hosting the annual Air Transport ResearchQantas1 Society World Conference (ATRS2011) which brought around 250 air transport researchers to the UNSW campus for a 4-day conference. Organised by Ian Douglas, this conference had many highlights including the remarkable story of the crew of QF32 in bringing their crippled Airbus A380 safely back to Singapore. The aircraft experienced engine failure in one of its Trent 900 engines just 4 minutes after take-off. After holding for two hours over Batam Island, Indonesia, the aircraft landed safely at Changi Airport with no injuries, as explained by Capt David Evans, who was training Captain on that flight. A special presentation was also delivered by Mr Asran Osman-Rani (CEO Air Asia X) who gave an incisive, humorous and riveting explanation completely from memory, of how to run a Low Cost Carrier effectively in a difficult economic climate.  Shortly thereafter, Dr Brett Molesworth FRASCAwas promoted to Senior Lecturer in recognition of his outstanding research and teaching activities.

A new Frasca simulator was commissioned in October to facilitate training on both the DA40 and DA42, following approvals by CASA. October 2011 also saw the joint appointment of Professor Mike Regan to both the School and TARS. Professor Regan is a Human Factors expert, with outstanding experience in research in Human Factors in both Road and Aviation Safety.  He began work immediately on an ARC Research Infrastructure proposal to provide equipment for the Australian Naturalistic Driving Study. Mr Ian Douglas was awarded his DBA becoming Dr Ian Douglas, and Mr Malcolm Good, Chief Flying Instructor, was awarded the 2011 Staff Excellence Award for Technical Staff.  

Dr Simon Henderson, a Virgin Australia Captain and  Flight Standards Manager for the VA Airbus 330 fleet, gave the 2011 Wings Night address. With vast experience in operating with Ansett Airlines, Emirates Airlines and with a PhD (UNSW) in Situation Awareness, Dr (Capt) Henderson’s presentation was of great interest to all.

2012 Student numbers increased by approximately 10%. Dr Carlo Caponecchia was promoted to Senior Lecturer. Later in the year, Dr Ian Douglas became a member of the International Air Services Commission, a body which advises the Australian government on international routes for Australian air carriers. The inaugural Qatar Airways interviews began, with senior Qatar Airways personnel travelling to AUNSW to interview our third year management students. A number were subsequently employed, and the interview program became an annual event.

Wings Night guest of honour was Squadron Leader David Bell, formerly a flying Graduate of UNSW Aviation. Having flown RAAF FA18s, and being a Graduate of the US Navy test Pilot School SQNLDR Bell’s accounts of his experiences, and advice to our flying students was compelling.

David Tan
      Dr David Tan

2013 The Naturalistic Driving Study infrastructure proposal was funded, and work continued on the NDS Linkage Grant proposal.

In one of their reviews, the Industry Advisory Committee identified a need for a subject that would teach finance and economics skills in the degree structure.  Thereafter, Dr David Tan was appointed as Lecturer in the area of Aviation Econometrics to strengthen the School’s quantitative analysis research and teaching capabilities. AVIA1902 Airline Financial Analysis and Decision Support was introduced. 

AVIA3900 Aviation and Sustainable Tourism was run for the first time at Lady Elliot Island by Dr Tay Koo.



2020 Lady Elliot Island Cohort.

The School participated in the internal review of BAv (Flying) and BAv (Management) programs required by the Academic Board. Mr David Forsyth participated as Industry Panel Member, and Prof Hans Martin Niemeier (University of Bremen) was the other external Panel Member. In conjunction with the Business Faculty, a new 4-year dual degree (BCom/BAv Management) with high ATAR was introduced. This provided additional high quality students in 2014 and later.

2013 Wings Night featured Capt John Gissing, CEO of QantasLink and a former Jetstar Captain, who gave an inspiring presentation which gave substantial motivation to all those present, as he began his flying career at Bankstown Airport and we graduated 23 commercial pilots that year.

 2013 Graduates of the Flying Program.
                                                                                              2013 Graduates of the Flying Program


2014 The School increased its taught load to 320. The BAv review was completed with a successful outcome with only minor changes recommended. Summer School programs with Temasek Polytechnic and the Hong Kong Direct Subsidy System School Council were introduced, these providing additional professional advice on the aviation industry in South East Asia, as well as providing contact for potential future students for our programs. The President and CEO of Garuda Indonesia Airlines, Mr Emirsyah Satar visited UNSW and addressed more than 250 undergraduate students over the 3 years from the School of Aviation.

New program structures for postgraduate coursework programs, Graduate Diploma in Aviation Management and Master of Aviation Management, were approved by the Academic Board to align with the new policy set by the Australian Qualifications Framework. Both of these programs were successfully implemented in 2014. In the subsequent year, two new postgraduate courses were introduced with AVIA5037 Airline Operations and Delay Management, delivered by Dr Rich Wu, and AVIA5039 Airworthiness, delivered by Adjunct Prof John Vincent.

The guest of honour for Wings Night 2014 was Ronald Houghton, DFC, PhD, and Legion of Honour.  Dr Houghton was Formerly a RAAF WW2 bomber pilot and fighter pilot and flew after WW2 with Qantas and Air Lanka as an Airline Captain. His presentation was fascinating as he recalled events which amazed the entire audience.

2015 The building Airport leases at Bankstown Airport were extended for another 5 years. From a marketing perspective, the School introduced a “Current Affairs in South East Asia” program with UNESCO in Hong Kong, and a “Current Affairs in Aviation in Australia” program with the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) South Eastern Section. Both are aimed at high school students.

UNESCO course in Hong Kong
                                                                                                UNESCO course in Hong Kong

In early April, Flying students Renee Close, Katie Seymour and Hayley Umbers received Sir Donald Anderson awards for the highest academic achievements in aviation theory exams.

L-R) Hayley Umbers, Katie Seymour and Renee Close receive their awards at the Australian Women Pilots Association dinner.
                                                               (L) to (R) Hayley Umbers, Katie Seymour and Renee Close receive their awards
                                                                                  at the Australian Women Pilots Association dinner.

UNSW Vice Chancellor Professor Ian Jacobs visited the School as well as the Flying Operations Unit where Head of Operations Malcolm Good took the opportunity to fly the VC, Professor Jacobs and Shahina Mohamed down Victor 1 for a first-hand view of Sydney. Professor Jason Middleton flew Peter Noble, Chief of Staff, and Jason Coombs along the same route.


A Cultural Shift

2015 In August 2015, a new collaboration for advanced flying was publicly announced in an MOU between QantasLink and UNSW Aviation for the Qantas Future Pilot Program. This represented a cultural shift with QantasLink “taking ownership of its grass roots training and using its operational pilots to mentor the next generation,” (Australian Aviation, 2015) thus embedding the airline’s culture at a very early stage of pilot training.  UNSW Aviation students were selected for tailored training in the Graduate Diploma in Advanced Flying, designed to prepare them for the flightdeck of the Q400 by virtue of specific equipment, a new syllabus and the direct mentoring of current QantasLink pilots.


QLinkThe Graduate Diploma in Advanced Flying program was approved by the relevant committees for operation in 2016, concurrently with the two key training courses, AVIF5915 Airline Pilot Multi-Crew Coordination and AVIF5916 Aeroplane Systems for Airline Pilots. Equipment procured for these courses include the Pacific Simulators PS4.5 for the Multi-Crew course, and the Aerosim DASH 8 Q400 Virtual Procedures Trainer for the Aeroplane Systems Course.

In 2015 the School’s taught load grew to 332.

2015 Wings Night honorary guest speaker, Mr Dick Smith gave a fascinating account of his experiences as an aviation adventurer, which motivated all present to want to go out and repeat some of his exploits. As perhaps the leading aviation adventurer of this decade, Dick had the audience spellbound with his amazing tales, told in a very unassuming and practical fashion.

Mr Dick Smith

2016 In February the School obtained CASA approvals permitting operation under CASR Parts 141/142. Under these rules, Mr Brian Horton, Director of the Flying Operations Unit held the CASA CEO position while Mr Malcolm Good became the Head of Operations. Rodney Hyde became the Standards Manager and Peter Arnold the Head of Airworthiness and Maintenance Control (HAAMC). An Operations Advisory Board was established to provide advice to the Head of School and UNSW senior management, on the operational aspects of the Flying Operations Unit.  Application was made to CASA for MCC course approval.  Initial enrolments for the Graduate Diploma in Advanced Flying were taken, and mid-year entry was approved for the Bachelor of Aviation (Flying). The Graduate Diploma in Flying was approved for entry by applicants holding a cognate degree. Dr Rich Wu was promoted to Associate Professor effective January 2016, while Dr Douglas was appointed Chair of the IASC. Virgin Australia CEO, Mr John Borghetti gave a Q7A discussion led by stalwart Ron Rosalky, to the entire school.Ann Williamson

Professor Ann Williamson was awarded the “Australian College of Road Safety Fellowship” for her outstanding research in road safety by the Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester on 7th September.

Taught load for 2016 reached an all-time high of 348 EFTSL. Total graduates from all programs to the end of 2016 was 1,667

Roy Kelly
                  Mr Roy Kelly

Ground Theory Instructor, Roy Kelly was the winner of the 2016 UNSW Staff Excellence Award for Excellence in Professional Services for his innovation in delivery of aviation theory. Roy Kelly has been involved in aviation for over 25 years, flying in the UK, Europe and Australia. He joined the UNSW in 2013 taking up the position of Theory Instructor, specialising in Meteorology, Aerodynamics and Aircraft Systems. He teaches systems in our Jet based trainer and Dash 8 Q400 systems trainer. He has a very practical approach to his ATPL theory training having developed many animations and working models to assist his students in understanding some of the complexities of the modern jet transport aircraft.

Major Helen Mammino, Officer Commanding 171 Squadron (Blackhawk Special Operations) gave the Wings Night annual guest presentation, with an inspiring account of her flying career.  As the first female to take on the role of OC 171 Squadron, Major Mammino gave perhaps the most inspiring presentation ever, prompting all to want to go out and have a rotary wing career.


Changing of the Guard


           Prof Jason Middleton                    Prof Gabriel Lodewijks

In 2017 Professor Middleton retired as Head of School, having led UNSW Aviation from its inception in 1995 to establish it as the premier aviation school in Australasia, if not the world.
“I am most proud of the impact we've had in the industry, through having support from the industry to help us teach and through employment of our graduates. We have made a tremendous impact on the Australian aviation industry and I’m most proud of that, by teaching courses which make people genuinely job ready at the end of a three year degree,” said Prof Middleton.

After a global search that had begun a few years prior, Professor Gabriel Lodewijks took up duties as Head of School on 1 February 2017.  Professor Lodewijks has a unique skillset that blends engineering technology and large scale transport systems. He has also held senior management positions in both the corporate and academic world. In 2000 he was appointed Professor of Transport Engineering and Logistics at Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands. In 2007 he was appointed Chief Technology Officer of the Schiphol group, a company that operates airports around the world. In 2008 Professor Lodewijks became Scientific Director of the Delft Centre of Aviation. Besides being active at TU Delft, he worked as visiting/guest/chair professor at the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa, Wuhan University of Technology, Beijing University of Science and Technology, China University of Mining and Technology, and Newcastle University, Australia, taking up the position of Head of School for UNSW Aviation in 2017.

Professor Jason Middleton became Emeritus Professor  in August 2017. Ms Lily Turner, who had been School Manager for 20 years, also departed the School. 

In June 2017, to strengthen the ties with the School’s alumni, Prof Lodewijks joined an alumni event hosted by Qantas that, at that stage, had more than 75 UNSW Aviation alumni employed.


Also in June that year, Prof Lodewijks was happy to receive VH UNR, a new Piper Seminole PA44 twin-engine to cater to multi-engine training for our increasing numbers.

New Aircraft
  Dr Soufiane Cpufous

Soufiane Boufous, a leading epidemiologist joined the TARS team on 17 July 2017. Dr Soufiane Boufous is an injury epidemiologist with a Master’s degree in

Public Health, University of Sydney and a PhD in Epidemiology, University of NSW. Soufiane's research focuses on developing innovative methods of assessing the burden and risk factors of trauma and has extensive experience in injury surveillance and record linkage of injury data. He has also led and been involved in large observational studies and randomized trials that increased knowledge and supported the development of evidence based injury prevention policies.

2017 graduated the largest cohort to date.



Equity and Diversity


Dr Julie Hatfield
   Dr Julie Hatfield

Professor Lodewijks proved to be a champion for women in Aviation, increasing the School’s female academics three-fold.  Dr Julie Hatfield was appointed to augment the transport safety research work with TARS as well as to teach AVIA5017 Human Factors in Transportation Safety. With over 20 years’ experience in leading human factors and behavioural research relating to health and safety, Dr Hatfield was a regular contributor to policy forums and was very effective in disseminating her research via the popular media. In her time at UNSW Dr Hatfield has authored over 200 publications, reports and presentations and has supervised nearly 40 postgraduate students including 7 PhD students.   Transport Logistics expert, Dr Fangni Zhang also joined the School during 2018.


CEO of Qantas

In August 2018, Ron Rosalsky hosted another very successful event on Kensington campus when he interviewed Mr Alan Joyce, the CEO of Qantas.

In 2018 Prof Lodewijks introduced a course on Baggage Handling System Design, Technology & Operations. Part of this course is an excursion to Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport to visit the baggage handling department.

Bagage Handling Course


Building Research Collaboration

Being part of a global world, teaching and research cannot be done in splendid isolation. Prof Gabriel Lodewijks made it a priority of the school to further establish links with other Australian universities and international universities including Wuhan University of Technology and Beihang University, both in China. In particular, the cooporation with the two Chinese universities, where there are MOUs in place, is important for both teaching and research. The school attracts new PhD students from China, exchanges staff, facilitates joint research and summer courses.

To extend the network of the School, the School is an active member of A/AA, Aerospace and Aviation Australia and the Go-SAFE initiative from CASA.


HF Laboratory

Assoc Prof Brett Molesworth set up the Human Factors laboratory, a purpose built research facility designed to provide leading researchers the tools and resources to improve our understanding about how humans function within a system. The laboratory is equipped with numerous simulators, including driving, rail and aviation simulators (B737, DA40, RPA), instrumented vehicles, including both a car (Subaru Liberty) and aircraft (Diamond DA40 and DA42), along with numerous physiological measures such as electroencephalogram (EEG), heart rate, eye trackers, and skin conductance. The findings from the research conducted at the laboratory is often published in leading journals within the specific field of research, as well as in industry based reports.  The HF Lab has been profiled on UNSW’s research Capabilities website at:

HF Lab


Airborne Remote Sensing Facility

UNSW School of Aviation is unique amongst universities in hosting CASA approved air operations which are used for flying training and aerial surveying. Campaigns deploy from UNSW’s Flying Operations Unit based at Bankstown Airport, which provides airborne support for projects requiring airborne remote sensing observations, and research support for the analysis of airborne lidar and photogrammetry data conducted by Prof Jason Middleton and Mr Peter Mumford.

Present facilities include airborne lidar and airborne photogrammetry equipment mounted in a twin-engine aircraft fitted with approved instrument rack and observation port, but other equipment may also be flown.

Publications include high impact scientific research and technical papers, and conference publications describing community impacts. The 2017 paper in Nature Scientific reports referenced below is very highly cited and along with other work has advised both researchers and government policy makers to think more deeply about the nature of coastal storms, and their impact on development and society.  

Image from Collaroy Beach.
                                                                                         Image from Collaroy Beach

See more at


International Study Tour

In 2018 a new tradition was introduced to provide the School’s students with more exposure to the aviation industry: The International Study Tour. In 2018 the tour went to South Korea and in 2019 to The Netherlands.

South Korea
                                                                                                        South Korea Study Tour 2018


Mr Brian Horton
      Mr Brian Horton

2019 After more than a decade as the Director of Flying Operations, Mr Brian Horton retired. During his time the flying school had experienced unprecedented growth with the reputation of its graduates proving among the highest globally. He had overseen the purchase of the DA40 and DA42 fleet, the implementation of the Graduate Diploma in Advanced Flying and the QantasLink Future Pilot Program.  Mr Horton also oversaw the implementation of a fleet renewal plan that would ensure the School would continue to be able to provide the best flight training available to its students well into the future. Before retiring, Mr Horton and Prof Lodewijks had started plans for a state of the art facility at Bankstown Airport to accommodate the School’s future as the strongest flying, research and academic training ground for aviators and aviation personnel in Australasia.

Dr Ian Douglas also retired and became Honorary Lecturer with the School, continuing to support the academic life of the School. Dr Douglas also won the bid for the School to host the ATRS Conference for 2020, which was deferred to 2021 due to the pandemic.  He was also reappointed to the Chair of the International Air Services Commission and earns the distinction of being the longest running Chair of that body. His continued involvement helps provide valuable governmental and industry perspective to the School.

Dr Tony Webber joined the School teaching AVIA1901 Transport Economics, AVIA1902 Airline Financial Analysis and Decision Support and AVIA4032 Quantitative Analysis in Aviation Economics. Dr Webber’s background includes Chief Analyst at Qantas for 7 years and his own aviation consultancy, Airline Intelligence and Research with one of the biggest private aviation operational and financial databases in the world. Dr Webber has consulted widely across airlines, airports, tourism and hospitality and is regularly seen and heard in the Australian media.

In February 2019, after months of hard work by Professor Lodewijks and then School Manager Anne Houtjes, The School opened its doors to a newly refurbished office space in the Old Main Building at Kensington. 

refurbished office space

In June, a newly energized Industry Advisory Committee was formed with GE Aviation CEO, Keren Rambow becoming the first female Chair appointed by Professor Lodewijks. An extensive review of the School was undertaken by Ms Rambow with a view to making the IAC more effective. Industry members were matched with academics as far as expertise and working subgroups were established.  Professor Lodewijks issued a Vision and Mission Statement for the School to outline goals that would see the School become even more important to aviation, with a strong commitment to nurturing growth for the School’s three arms of flying training, academic rigour and research with strong input and engagement from industry.

Under Professor Lodewijks’ stewardship the long-standing relationship between the School and Sydney Airport hit a new milestone with the proposal of the Sydney Airport SYD100 Scholarship, a new equity scholarship announced by Sydney Airport CEO Geoff Culbert at the Airport’s centenary gala dinner on 31 October 2019. Established to support educationally disadvantaged students undertaking study at the UNSW School of Aviation, the scholarship is paid directly towards accommodation fees and tuition fees for the duration of the course for students who have received an offer to a Commonwealth supported place. The scholarship provides $25,000 per annum towards living expenses and full tuition fees for up to 4 years.

Introducing DRONES: With Airborne drones (unmanned aerial vehicles) of varying shapes and sizes permeating the civil aviation sector across recreational, commercial and research activities, Dr Tay Koo introduced AVIA2025 Introduction to Airborne Drone Management, a course designed to introduce students to the fundamentals of remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) management through a suite of topics including basic aeronautical knowledge, RPA ethics and law, human factors and safety, logistics and operations, and RPA research methods. The course emphasises practical applications of the concepts and tools introduced through select case studies and realistic mission planning for operations involving commercial and research activities.

ARRB Lifetime Achievement Award: In November 2019, Emeritus Prof Raphael Grzebieta won the ARRB Lifetime Achievement award. This award is presented in recognition of an individual’s outstanding leadership and contribution to the road and transport sector for more than 25 years, based on an enduring track record of research, development and implementation activities. Congratulations to Raph!



2020 Everyone will know the year of social distancing



In 2020, Mr Malcolm Good became the Chief Pilot and Director of the Flying Operations Unit. Mr Rodney Hyde became the Head of Operations.  Mr Michael de Manincor became the Training and Checking Standards Officer and Mr Peter Arnold remains the HAAMC.

                                                         (L) to (R) Mr Michael De Manincor (Training & Checking), Mr Rodney Hyde (HOO),
                                            Mr Malcolm Good (DFO), Mr Peter Arnold (HAAMC) receiving DA40s UNQ and UNY October 2020


An additional 17 flying instructors and 4 senior industry MCC instructors service the flying program which has its biggest enrolment to date with nearly 100 students. The ATPL Ground Theory Department continues to be led by Mr Jeremy Andrews, with Mr Roy Kelly, Mr Barry Ellis, Mr Phillip Rosen and Mr Martin Jamieson making up the other ground theory instructors. The School has 8 core permanent academics and researchers, two postdocs and 15 global industry experts who teach key courses in both the undergraduate and postgraduate program as casual academics. A number of honorary lecturers, adjunct professors and emeritus professors continue to work with the school, attesting the strong legacy of the school. The Honours and HDR cohort continues to grow also. The School is supported by 6 general administration staff that consists of a School Manager (Ms Lorda Omeissah), an Undergraduate Program Manager (Ms Elaine Tat) and a Postgraduate Program Manager (Ms Jamie Lim), an Administration Officer (Ms Lucie Thomson),  Administrative Assistant (Mr Dimuth Seneviratne), an Executive Assistant/Project Officer (Ms Gabby Knight) and two specialist technical support officers (Mr Ray Arnhold and Mr Patricio Rodriguez), all of which is supported more broadly by the Faculty of Science.


Meeting the Challenge – whatever it may be

The Government report of the Expert Panel on Aviation Skills and Training in July 2018 had warned of an enormous challenge to training in light of predictions that the aviation industry would double over the next 20 years. By 2020, IATA and Boeing were predicting an expected shortage of over 750,000 pilots and over 650,000 technicians with a third of them being in the South East Asian region. The School was making plans to expand its capacity to meet this challenge.  Prof Gabriel Lodewijks and Mr Malcolm Good worked with ALTIS property developers for the Sydney Metro Airports key stakeholder First State Super, to finalise plans for a state of the art facility at Bankstown Airport with capacity for the School’s growth. However, by the end of February, it became clear that 2020 would not be a normal year and everything went into tailspin.

COVID-19 hit and within all of two weeks, all tuition was converted to online and staff had to adapt to working from home (WFH). This was feasible for the academic and research unit but for the flying unit, the impact was more severe. As part of its duty of care, the School shut its flying operations for a number of months in line with university policies around physical distancing.  After developing a strict hygiene and physical distancing protocol, flying resumed in June with everyone placed on a 7 day week to get students through their flying course. Staff and students had to adapt to the ‘new normal’ but adapt they did! See photo above.

The  “Current Affairs in Aviation” course for high school students went online, with the added bonus of enabling international students interested in Aviation to attend and raising funds for the RFDS (SE Section) in the process.



With the retirement of Dr Ian Douglas, the hunt was on to find someone who could teach the core subjects of Airline Management and Airport Management.

Mr Dane Kondic
                   Mr Dane Kondic

Luck struck when Dane Kondic, former CEO of Air Serbia returned to Australia after 20 years in senior positions across Asia and Europe.  Credited with one of the most remarkable turnarounds ever in the fortunes of any airline when he rebranded JAT Airways to Air Serbia bringing it into the black in its first year, Dane brings invaluable real-world experience to students aspiring to be an airline CEO.

Mr Trevor Jones extended his role as a long-time lecturer in Airport Security to take on the teaching duties for Airport Management in AVIA2701 Aviation Security & Airport Management. Trevor has over 25 years’ experience in the aviation industry and has held the role of Manager Group Security Policy & Compliance within the Qantas Group Security Division in Sydney for the past decade.

Mr Kenneth McLean who has held senior management roles in industry across Asia and Europe took on teaching duties for AVIA2801 Regional and General Aviation and is also currently contributing to the development of an environmental sustainability course in aviation.

Mr Norman Fitzpatrick and Mr John Terlich continued to teach AVIA3301 Simulation Applications and ATM, Ron Bartsch has taught the Law & Regulations subjects for nearly two decades, and David Chitty teaches AVIA3410 Advanced Law & Regulation in Aviation. Dr Belinda Dinnell extends our Human Factors expertise teaching AVIA1401 Introduction to Human Factors.

Casual Lecturers
                                           (L) to (R) Mr Norman Fitzpatrick, Mr John Terlich, Dr Belinda Dinnell, Mr Stevan Sipka, Mr David Chitty


In 2020 the postgraduate program continues to be taught predominantly by industry experts including Mr Seena Sarram AVIA5005 Airline Operational Management and AVIA5009 Airline Corporate Management, Mr Marek Bekier, Air Traffic Expert based in Sweden, teaches AVIA5008 Air Traffic Management, Mr Peter Wigens, AVIA5015 Safety Management Systems, Mr Peter Murphy AVIA5018 Aviation Human Factors, Dr Simon Henderson AVIA5024 Flight Deck Operations for Advanced Transport Aircraft, Mr Andrew Charlton AVIA5035 Airport Economics, Management & Policy and Adjunct Prof John Vincent teaches AVIA5039 Airworthiness for Transport Category Aircraft.  Core staff make up the rest of the teaching duties for the postgraduate course, which offers 21 subjects including an Aviation Research Project subject facilitated by Prof Lodewijks.

                                                (L) to (R) Mr Seena Sarram, Dr Simon Henderson, Mr Marek Bekier, Mr Craig Neal, Mr Ron Bartsch


SYD100 – A Century of Support from Sydney Airport

In July 2020, citing the need to support the next generation of leaders in aviation despite the pandemic crisis, Sydney Airport CEO Geoff Culbert awarded the first SYD100 equity scholarship to the inaugural recipient, Manmeet Kaur, handing her the four-year SYD100 Aviation scholarship to study at the School of Aviation. Professor Gabriel Lodewijks said he was thrilled to receive a century of support from Sydney Airport, highlighting the significance of Aviation in Australia.

                                        Inaugural SYD100 recipient Manmeet Kaur with Sydney Airport CEO Geoff Culbert (courtesy of The Australian)


Building Relations with Western Sydney Airport

Under Professor Lodewijks, a relationship with Western Sydney Airport was also established.  Mr Stevan Sipka, who had been a casual lecturer for the School became Executive Manager Aero Partnerships for Western Sydney Airport and continues to lecture AVIA2501 Airline Marketing Strategies and facilitates AVIA5006 Airport Planning and AVIA5007 Airport Operations Management.  In 2020, seeking to formalize the relationship with the school, WSA made an inaugural donation to help support the establishment of a new course in Sustainability for the Aviation program, provide collaboration in case studies with students and special guest speakers. With the airport on schedule to open in 2026, this relationship will become a crucial connection to industry for our students, who will go on to become key personnel for the airport and the aviation industry that will surround it. The cooperation also brings unique chances for research. Examples of research projects include the impact of gate allocation processes on the environmental impact of the airport, and the impact of using automated guided vehicles in baggage handling.

Western Sydney Airport

ALICANTOIn October 2020, Head of School, Professor Gabriel Lodewijks was elected as a board member to the International Association of Aviation and Aerospace Education – ALICANTO, a prestigious recognition of the School’s position within the global aviation network and its contribution to training the past, present and the next generation of aviation professionals.


2020 Indigenous Success

In 2020, the annual celebration in July of all things Indigenous, NAIDOC Week was rescheduled to November due to COVID-19 and the School created a social media campaign to reflect the three pillars of the university’s Indigenous Strategy: ‘Give Back’, ‘Grow Our Own’ and ‘Culture and Country’.  Two of Aviation’s students, both proud Aboriginal women participated in Instagram takeovers, sharing their lives as Aviation students as well as some of their Indigenous heritage.  

1. Wonnarua woman and 2020 first-year Aviation Management student Kirralee Smith is proud of her heritage. She shared some of her history  and ideas on how to celebrate  NAIDOC week and come one step closer to reconciliation!
Visit our IG HIGHLIGHTS to watch her special #NAIDOCWeek takeover.

     ‘Always was, always will be’



2. Thurawal woman and Graduate Diploma in Flying final year student Renee Wootten, who passed her Commercial Pilot Licence in 2020, shared this Instagram takeover for us about her life as a flying student during Covid-19.

3. Renee Wootton – Superstar of STEM

In December 2020, Renee Wootton was named one of Australia’s official Superstar of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). Wootton is one of 60 women in STEM who was recognised recently by Australia’s Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews as part of Science & Technology Australia’s game-changing Superstars of STEM program.  Congratulations Renee! 

You can read more about Superstar Renee here:…



2020 Civil Engineer of the Year

RaphaelOn Friday 11 December 2020, our very own Emeritus Professor Raphael Grzebieta was recognised by the Civil Engineering College of Engineers Australia as Australia’s Civil Engineer of the Year.  Prof Grzebieta works tirelessly to help save lives and reduce trauma on our roads by producing smarter and better engineering solutions to help prevent injury and deaths.  The prestigious Sir John Holland Civil Engineer of the Year Award was a statue of curved glass with a wire rope median barrier laser embossed on the back of it, highlighting the life-saving qualities that Prof Grzebieta has been associated with throughout his life.  

“The award recognises the ongoing effort needed to move towards an error tolerant road transport system in Australia that aspires to zero deaths on our roads,’ said Prof Grzebieta in his acceptance speech.

Congratulations to Raph!



Fleet Renewal Plan

2020 also saw the delivery of two new aeroplanes as part of the Fleet Renewal Plan implemented by the Faculty of Science a few years back. Given the financial impact of the pandemic on the university during 2020, this would normally not have been possible to execute. The foresight in establishing a Fleet Renewal Plan some years back proved to be a key factor in enabling the Flying Operations Unit to remain a viable world class flying training unit. On hand to deliver the DA40s were Mr Stephen Pembro and Mr John Oppenheimer from Utility Air, who facilitated the purchase and delivery of the aeroplanes. Receiving VH UNQ and VH UNY in their UNSW Sydney livery were Professor Gabriel Lodewijks and Mr Malcolm Good.

                   (L) to (R) Prof Gabriel Lodewijks, HoS, Mr Stephen Pembro, Mr John Oppenheimer (Utility Air) and Mr Malcolm Good, (DFO)
                          (L) to (R) Prof Gabriel Lodewijks, HoS, Mr Stephen Pembro, Mr John Oppenheimer (Utility Air) and Mr Malcolm Good, DFO


New Aircraft


Celebrating 25 Years of UNSW Aviation Alumni



Despite the dark clouds that have often gathered over the aviation industry in the past with 911, SARS and the GFC, aviation always bounces back.  While the aviation industry is facing its most challenging time to date with the impact of COVID-19, our students can take heart from the alumni stories that we have documented here on the website, and which we will be profiling on social media during November 2020. Almost without exception, they talk about how the degree from UNSW Aviation has helped to set them apart and made them more employable than their peers. Their stories are testament to the fact that the UNSW School of Aviation has led academic learning, flight training and research at University level in the Australasian region for more than two decadesUNSW Aviation will continue to give wings to its graduates by preparing them to be the future leaders of the global aviation industry, as it has done for the past 25 years.



Click here to read more about our alumni and their journeys in aviation.