HUNDREDS of Chinese cadet pilots will amass crucial flight training in Port Macquarie to kickstart a ticket to the skies across the world.
About 150 pilot cadets a year from China will train under the guidance of Port Macquarie-based Arena International Aviation in a step towards becoming pilots with Hainan Airlines.
The relationship between Arena International Aviation and Hainan Airlines will bring economic and cultural benefits to the area.
Arena International Aviation is renewing its fleet.
Four Diamond aircraft have just arrived and another four will follow by August.
The eight planes are valued at $2.3 million.
About 30 new aircraft will be needed to meet the demand within the next three years.
Negotiations are also underway to purchase an advanced flight simulator and an additional two new multi-engine training aircraft.
The first group of pilot cadets will arrive in September/October.
Chief pilot Kevin McMurtrie said the company was looking to use Port Macquarie and Kempsey airports for the flight training.
Arena International Aviation, which has about 20 staff, expects to almost double its employee numbers over the next 12 months.
“That has financial spin-offs for the community of Port Macquarie,” Mr McMurtrie said.
The students will attain their Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority commercial pilots licence and multi-engine command instrument rating before returning to China to start their jet training.
They will then take to the air as pilots with Hainan Airlines.
The airline services many destinations throughout mainland China and international destinations such as Brussels, Bangkok, Moscow, Toronto, London, Paris and Seattle.
Tian Wei from Hainan Airlines Group said the airline had three training bases in China and recruited about 600 pilot cadets each year.
“We like the weather and training environment here, so we chose here as our first Australian training base,” he said about Port Macquarie.
Each of the students will spend 16 months here.
Hawker Pacific, an Asia Pacific aircraft sales, services and product support company, sold the Diamond aircraft to Arena International Aviation.
Hawker Pacific’s sales manager for Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific John Oppenheim said the aircraft were an all-round smart business decision for Arena.
A gathering at Port Macquarie on Thursday celebrated the pilot training initiative.
Arena International Aviation chairman Li Chunming, speaking through an interpreter, said the training required good weather throughout the year.
Port Macquarie meets that requirement and there are established links here.
Mr Li said the initiative had cultural, education, economic and tourism benefits.
Mayor Peter Besseling said the initiative would bring enormous opportunities to our community including tourism to employment.