Three new aircraft were welcomed to the New Zealand International Commercial Pilot Academy in Whanganui with a traditional water salute, courtesy of a Fire and Emergency Whanganui crew.
Representatives of Whanganui District Council, Whanganui District Council Holdings, Whanganui and Partners, Wanganui Aero Club, Horizons Regional Council and New Zealand International Commercial Pilot Academy (NZICPA) welcomed the aeroplanes at a function on Monday, October 29.
NZICPA chief executive Phill Bedford said the addition of the new aircraft enhanced the training available to students.
"I'm buzzing today," Bedford said.
"It's absolutely outstanding for all of us here. We can advocate from here on in that Whanganui is New Zealand's aviation city."
The new aircraft include a Diamond DA42 that has an advanced Garmin 1000 avionics system, enabling students to work with flight technology that was not previously available at the academy. There are also two Cessna 172s, refurbished by Oceania Aviation in Hamilton.
"The Cessnas now operate off Jet A1 diesel-based fuel so the operating costs are a little bit lower," Bedford said.
Matthew Doyle, who chairs the NZICPA board, said the academy's new building and additional aeroplanes reflected the continuing support for the venture.
"Student numbers are growing and we strongly support Phil and his team and the focus on procurement of new planes for us," Doyle said.
"For the board, we are really excited with what this provides for us. They have the avionics and technology in them that the students need. It allows us to continue to develop a world class operation, based in Whanganui."
Doyle said Whanganui District Council Holdings, which bought the flight school in 2015, had given unanimous support to the expansion.
Whanganui mayor Hamish McDouall said the new planes brought a different scale to the academy's operation.
"When I'm at home and one of these planes flies past, it's exciting to think there is more money coming in to Whanganui and these young people are living and training here," McDouall said.
"This is a great day for Whanganui."
NZICPA leases some aircraft and numbers fluctuate but it has up to 15 available for pilot training.
The growth of the flight school means it is doubling the number of accommodation units it rents from four to eight to cater for more students who are starting in January. Most of the international students doing the 12-month course are from India, with others from Vietnam, Thailand, Papua New Guinea, China, Singapore and Fiji. Students doing the two-year diploma in aviation were mainly from New Zealand due to eligibility requirements.