RAAF base decision still up in the air

AN ANNOUNCEMENT of the future location of the Australian Defence Force’s Basic Flight Training School is now expected to be made in the first quarter of next year.

Wellington Shire Council and broader Gippsland and Victorian state government bipartisan support over a number of years has supported the relocation of Defence Project Air 5428 and Basic Flying Training from current civilian airport at Tamworth, to RAAF Base, East Sale, a military base with Defence controlled airspace.

Mayor Carolyn Crossley is eager to hear the decision announced.

“Although the tender evaluation process has been ongoing for over eight months, we believe an outcome will be decided early in the new year, but it may be longer before anything is formally confirmed,” she said.

“Council has received assurance from the highest levels of government that any outcome of the tender will be made on the basis of merit and capability requirement.”

Council believes the co-location of basic flying training with the initial officer basic and initial aviation training, all conducted at RAA F Base, East Sale, will provide a strong centre of aviation training for the air force.

“Locating Basic Flying Training School at RAAF Base, East Sale will bring cost and operational benefits for staff, postings and quality of instruction, which can only be maximised through synergies with other military units,” Cr Crossley said.

“As has been recently highlighted in local media, the current $185 million dollar base redevelopment goes a long way to support any future growth of the facility.

“The construction phase and 25 year operations for the Basic Flying Training School would bring significant further opportunities for the economy of the Wellington region,” she said.

“At a graduation ceremony I attended this month at the RAA F base, the economic benefits it brings to our municipality were clear, not only through the existing redevelopment project and ongoing employment opportunities, but even for the influx of visitors to the region, attending such an event.”