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QantasLink and UNSW Australia’s School of Aviation have announced a new collaboration that will give student pilots a flying start in their career.

UNSW Aviation students can now apply to become ‘QantasLink Approved’ during their degree, which means their progress will be observed by the airline throughout their studies, they will be mentored by experienced QantasLink pilots and, if successful, will be considered for employment by QantasLink straight after graduation.

QantasLink Chief Executive Officer John Gissing said the collaboration, a first for both QantasLink and UNSW, provides benefits for students they won’t get from any other training program. 

“These students will not only benefit from the opportunity to fast-track their career by joining Australia’s premium regional airline, but will also learn from the wisdom and experience of our qualified QantasLink pilots,” Mr Gissing said.

“From my own experience as a pilot I know how high the standards are for pilots learning to fly, and with UNSW now using our training materials to teach their students in the university’s world-class facilities, we’ll be raising the standards even higher for the next generation of Australian pilots.

“QantasLink has a long history of working with UNSW Aviation so it’s exciting to formalise this relationship and officially bring the skills and expertise of our two iconic brands together,” Mr Gissing said. 

UNSW Aviation students can now apply to be "QantasLink Approved" during their degree, giving them a potential runway to employment at QantasLink.

To further set up student pilots for success, UNSW Aviation will offer a new Graduate Diploma in Advanced Flying program. Diploma students will learn multi-crew coordination, meaning they learn how to operate as part of an airline crew, and advanced systems and navigation training specifically for the Bombardier Dash-8 Q400 passenger aircraft and be ready to walk into a job with QantasLink. These courses are not offered by any other Australian university. 

Head of UNSW’s School of Aviation Professor Jason Middleton said the university’s new state-of-the-art flight simulators at its Bankstown Airport campus also support this collaboration. 

“It’s really exciting for us to be able to offer this new program to our students and, along with our amazing new training facilities, we know we’re setting our graduates up for successful careers with QantasLink,” Professor Middleton said.

New pilots are usually only considered for employment with a commercial airline after completing a minimum of 1000 hours of flying, which is most often gained by flying single-pilot charter aircraft or by seeking employment outside of Australia.

Once employed by QantasLink, graduates will complete their training under the supervision of QantasLink’s experienced training team and go on to become qualified as First Officers flying the airline’s 74-seat Q400s. 

Applications to become QantasLink Approved and complete UNSW Aviation’s Graduate Diploma in Advanced Flying are now open.


QantasLink’s Bombardier Dash-8 Q400 is the fastest turboprop passenger aircraft in the world and provides passengers a quiet and comfortable jet-like travel experience.

As Australia’s largest regional airline, QantasLink currently employs more than 480 pilots and operates a network of 57 metropolitan and regional destinations across Australia as well as to Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea.

UNSW Australia School of Aviation 

UNSW Aviation is a School of the Faculty of Science at UNSW Australia. The School offers the Bachelor of Aviation (flying and management streams), postgraduate programs in aviation management and flying, and the research degrees of MSc and PhD.

Flying training and aerial survey is based at the School’s Flying Operations Unit at Bankstown Airport, where flying students undertake training on a full-time basis in UNSW aeroplanes supervised by UNSW instructors under CASA certification.  

The School also operates Frasca and Pacific Simulators 4.5 flight training devices and an Aerosim Dash-8 systems trainer in support of its programs. 

The Frasca is configured to simulate the operation of single and twin-engined light aircraft fitted with the Garmin G1000 Primary Flight Display and Multi- Function Display, while the Pacific Simulators 4.5 is configured physically as a Boeing 737 NG cockpit on a static base suitable for Multi-Crew Training.

The Aerosim Dash- 8 systems trainer is a flat panel systems trainer for the Q400, designed to train students to understand and operate all systems in normal and abnormal situations.