The Grand Master's Australian Medal

Awarded to an individual, a group or organisation involved in any branch of aviation in the Australian Region or to Australian nationals abroad, who or which has made a meritorious contribution to any aviation activity, either by displaying technical excellence or by the development of a procedure or operational technique of an outstanding nature.

2023 awarded to:  Qantas Group Pilot Academy

The Australian aviation industry in 2017 was facing a pilot resourced challenge at all levels for well-trained pilots. This challenge resulted in various general aviation operators unable to provide key aviation services to remote communities throughout Australia.

The Qantas Group identified the need to develop a strategic mechanism that provides pilots for Australian general aviation as charter pilots and flight instructors but also develop a talent pipeline for the nation carrier’s needs. In February 2018 the Qantas Group proposed the establishment of an ab-initio pilot training school capable of training up to 250 students and it was envisaged that the Group would partner with an established flight training organisation to set up and operate the Academy in a regional location.  The Academy’s strategic aims are:

  • Increasing attractiveness of a flying career for school-leavers, clearly defined career paths, support diversity and First Nations peoples in becoming pilots and generate employment, especially in regional Australia
  • Providing well trained professional pilots across the Australian aviation industry in particular supporting general aviation and flight instructing
  • Providing a talent pool to support the Qantas Group pilot resource needs.

Within 18 months, the Academy had opened its doors in partnership with Flight Training Adelaide at Wellcamp Airport, Toowoomba. By January 2020, the Academy’s facilities were completed including state of the art flight training and learning facilities plus onsite accommodation. Students of the Academy have experiences including an allocated Qantas Group Pilot mentor; professional development program; engagement with Qantas Group Chief Pilots and Heads of Training and Checking; site visits to Qantas facilities and access to Qantas resources to support their learning. These experiences are unprecedented in the Australian aviation industry.

Despite the pandemic the Academy to date has a zero-accident record and graduated 230+ students, with over 30+ gaining employment with the Qantas Group, 100+ are employed across the Australian aviation industry through various established partnerships and 30+ employed as flight instructors. Various programs including scholarships have been implemented to support diversity with over 22% of graduates being female and 3% First Nations which is a leading industry statistic. Over the coming twelve months, 100 graduates are planned to join the Qantas Group.

For their contribution to supporting the Australian aviation industry, the Qantas Group and Flight Training Adelaide are recognised for the establishment of the Qantas Group Pilot Academy and awarded the Grand Master’s Australian Medal.

Grand Masters Australian Medal

Qantas Group CEO Vanessa Hudson and the Qantas Academy Team at Flight Training Adelaide receive the Grand Master's Australian Medal from the Master Captain Jonathan Legat during the Master's Tour 2023

Previous Winners:

1981/82  CSIRO Interscan Team - H C Minnett Esq, Dr D N Cooper, Dr J P Wild

1983  not awarded

1983/84  Brian Hamilton Heeps Esq

1985  not awarded

1985/86  Dr Henry Millicer

1986/87  Ingo Renner Esq

1987/88  Wg Cdr Bernard I Fernandes

1989 - 1990  not awarded

1990/91  Don M Kendell Esq

1991/92  Laurence C Gruzman Esq

1993  not awarded

1993/94 Sqn Ldr Kevin W Rushworth

1994/95  Captain Ernest A Girault

1995/96  Gary Lawson-Smith Esq

1996/97  Australian Mission Aviation Fellowship

1997/98  The Historical Aircraft Restoration Society Inc.

1999  not awarded

1999/2000  John G Roncz & Graham Swannell

2000/01  Captain Trevor Jensen

2001/02  Bob Peake

2002/03  Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia

2004 - 2006  not awarded

2006/07  C-17 Transition Team & 36 Squadron Royal Australian Air Force

2007/08  Number 92 Wing, Royal Australian Air Force

2008/09  The School of Air Warfare, Royal Australian Air Force

2009/10  816 Sqn Royal Australian Navy

2010/11  Air Mobility Control Centre RAAF

2012  not awarded

2012/13  Emergency Management Queensland - Helicopter Rescue

2013/14  Royal Australian Air Force Ageing Aircraft Systems Audit Team

2014/15  Flight Training Adelaide

2016  Temora Aviation Museum

2017  Royal Australian Air Force Aerobatic Team - The Roulettes

2018  James Eric Thurstan

2019  RAAF Aircraft Research and Development Unit

2020  Captain Susan Mchaffie

2021  Flt Lt Laura Ashleigh Haws RAAF

2022  Centenary Flypast Team RAAF

2023  Qantas Group Pilot Academy