17 August 2018
The Governor-General of New Zealand, Her Excellency, the Right Honourable Dame Patsy Reddy, formally opened a multi-million dollar commercial pilot training facility in Whanganui today.
The New Zealand International Commercial Pilot Academy is already operational after a new purpose-built training suite and hangar were constructed in 2017 with the first pilot trainees, a mix of overseas and New Zealand students, on site in September.
NZICPA Chief Executive, Phillip Bedford says having the Governor-General open the facility reflected the importance of the academy in New Zealand’s tertiary training sector and its value to the Whanganui economy. “We wanted this to be a very significant day, recognising that we have a world-class asset here which is strategically important for New Zealand as well as for our region.”
Mr Bedford says, “We enjoyed welcoming Her Excellency to the facility. It was an opportunity for us to showcase the Academy in operation and for the Governor-General to meet with staff and students, tour the building and even try out our flight simulator.”
The Governor-General referred to legends of New Zealand’s aviation history in her speech, saying “So many people are keen to follow in their footsteps. The New Zealand International Commercial Pilot Academy assists to help people make their dreams of a career in aviation a reality.”
She said, the impact of the new facility was already being felt in the district, with over 75 new residents in Whanganui and a 3.5 million dollar contribution to the local economy.
Whanganui Mayor, Hamish McDouall thanked the Governor-General for spending “a good chunk of time in Whanganui,” and acknowledged former Mayor Annette Main and NZICPA Board Chair Matthew Doyle for their contribution to a “bold and brave decision” to purchase a flight school and bring it to Whanganui.
He recognised Chief Executive, Phillip Bedford, Pastoral Care Officer, Tracy Bedford and the staff and students of the Academy, saying, "You are fine young people, bringing an injection of youth, beauty and ambition to our district. You’re part of Whanganui now.”
With a backdrop of training aircraft in the Academy’s hangar, the Governor-General unveiled a plaque and cut a ribbon between two aircraft to formally open the facility.