Professors: Niland, Wainwright & Hyland
Professors: Niland, Wainwright & Hyland opening UNSW Aviation

Planning for the Aviation Program at UNSW began in 1993 as an initiative of three faculties. It was decided that the Bachelor of Aviation would need two streams, a flying stream and a management stream, with a common core of courses supporting both streams. Captain John Faulkner then of Qantas Airways Ltd joined the development committee which also comprised Professor Jason Middleton, Mr John Page and Ms Carmel Desmarchelier. Having made a decision that the University would manage flying training standards from the outset, the University employed a Director of Flight Operations, Mr Greg Clynick. The Aviation Program opened its doors to students in 1995 enrolling 11 students, 6 in management and 5 in flying.

In 1996 the Department of Aviation was formed as an independent academic Department within the then Faculty of Science and Technology, and plans were made to employ academic and general staff personnel. Professor Jason Middleton was appointed Head of Department and Mr Rodger Robertson joined shortly thereafter as a Senior Lecturer (although he had been lecturing casually in 1995). In 1998 the Department had obtained an Air Operator's Certificate and flight training continued entirely under University authority, whereas previously flying training was supplied by a private provider. Planning began for academic offerings to include postgraduate coursework (Masters Degree, Graduate Diploma and Graduate Certificate) and these programs were approved and fully operating by 1999 with a limited range of courses.

By 2000 Dr Graham Braithwaite had joined the academic staff as a Lecturer, and instructional staff at Bankstown Airport included Mr Len Sales and Mr Ben Young, one of the Department's first graduates.

Department Staff in the Early Days
Department Staff in the Early Days

By 2004, Graham Braithwaite had returned to Cranfield in England, and the Department had developed a small but rapidly growing research program with ten postgraduate research students, five academic members of staff including Dr Rich Wu, Dr Boyd Falconer and Dr Steve Shorrock, and three general staff housed within the Old Main Building on the UNSW main campus. The main areas of research included aviation safety and human factors, and operational planning and management. A number of senior industry personnel also contributed to teaching at both undergraduate and postgraduate level, a structure which has continued to the present day. In 2004 six flight instructors operated from the UNSW Flying Training Unit at Hanger 235 at Bankstown Airport utilising 5 aircraft and 2 flight simulators. Greg Clynick was succeeded by Patrick Watson as Director of Flight Operations. Undergraduate student numbers exceeded 170, with just under a third of these graduating each year. The postgraduate coursework programs (delivered by distance learning methods) boasted over 150 students, and the graduated alumni number over 300. Short courses in accident investigation and human resources were proving popular with students travelling from as far afield as Vietnam and Hong Kong for the 5-day programs.

Dr Brett Molesworth joined the academic staff in 2006, and Prof Ann Williamson in 2008, extending our expertise in aviation safety. Mr Brian Horton joined as Director of Flight Operations and Chief Pilot in 2006 and Mr Malcolm Good became Chief Flying Instructor in 2010. New academic staff member Mr Ian Douglas (airline strategies) joined us in 2008, Dr Tay Koo (aviation tourism) in 2010, and Dr Carlo Caponecchia (human factors and occupational safety) in 2011.

In the same period Dr Steve Shorrock moved to France to work with Eurocontrol and Dr Boyd Falconer to the US to work with Korn/Ferry International.

The year 2010 saw major developments with the delivery of a new fleet of Diamond DA40 and DA42 aeroplanes for training, and the commissioning of a scanning lidar into our Piper Seminole. New office premises at Building 570 Bankstown Airport were occupied and Building 544 (the hangar) was refurbished. Additional research facilities include a research flight simulator, two driving simulators and an instrumented car. In 2010, postgraduate graduates numbered 26 and Bachelor degree graduates numbered 80.

In 2011 we also agreed to operate the Cessna 182 RG formerly operated by Dr Michael Harrap (University College, ADFA). The Bankstown Flying Operations Unit houses offices for our dozen instructors, and delivers over 5000 hours of flying per year, as well as CASA PPL, CPL and ATPL theory subjects. Campus student numbers grew to ~250 effective full-time equivalents, including over 20 research students.

As of January, 2011, PhD graduates include Dr Jin Woo Park (airline customer satisfaction), Dr Boyd Falconer (military flying safety), Dr Ian Getley (exposure of airline occupants to cosmic rays), Dr Tay Koo (aviation tourism) and Dr Simon Henderson (situation awareness on the flight deck). Over 20 students were enrolled in research degrees, and these are listed elsewhere on this website. A variety of prizes are offered by industry to students with exceptional results in various courses.

Graduate destinations for flying graduates include crew seats in all major Australian airlines (some as Captain, most as First Officer), and with Cathay Pacific, Dragonair and Singapore Airlines. Bachelor of Aviation management graduates are employed by the airlines, but also by Airservices Australia, Airports, CASA, the ATSB, and airfreight companies, and many now have significant middle management roles. With postgraduate course work programs offered by distance, graduates include experienced pilots, aviation middle managers seeking to upgrade their knowledge, and a growing cohort of very senior personnel in allied organisations seeking to know more about core aviation business.

A large number of research publications now appear in this website, and affiliated staff have now written 3 books:
Dr C.L. (Rich) Wu (Senior Lecturer), Airline Operations & Delay Management, Ashgate;
Mr Ron Bartsch (Visiting Fellow), Aviation Law in Australia, 3rd Ed Thomson-Reuters;
Dr Carlo Caponecchia (Lecturer), Preventing Workplace Bullying - with Dr Ann Wyatt, Allen & Unwin.

The School benefits from strong support at executive level, and from academics from other faculties and schools within UNSW. The academic programs are very well supported by industry experts whose knowledge of the academic areas and industry practices provide students with an excellent preparation for working in the aviation industry. In addition a strong Industry Advisory Committee led by David Forsyth (Chair of the Board of Airservices Australia and formerly EGM Operations at Qantas), and comprised of senior industry managers has ensured continued communication with industry so that programs are well-placed to serve future employer needs. While making a significant impact on the aviation industry at present, the School is well positioned to lead academic learning, flight training and research at University level in the Australasian region.

In January 2011, the Department was renamed the School of Aviation by the UNSW executive, in recognition of its substantive nature and prospects. Within the School a new research group, the Transport and Road Safety Research Group (TARS) was formed in March with significant base funding from the NSW State Government. (The TARS website may be found in menu listed on the top banner of the home page). Professor Ann Williamson took on the Directors role and by the end of 2011 TARS had obtained over $1 Million of eternal research funding.

June 2011 saw the School hosting the annual Air Transport Research Society World Conference (ATRS2011) which brought ~ 250 air transport researchers to the UNSW campus for a 4 day conference. Organised by Ian Douglas with outstanding attention to detail, this conference had many highlights, capped by the description of the amazing exploits of the crew of QF32 in bringing their crippled Airbus A380 safely back to Singapore, as explained by Capt David Evans who was training Captain on that flight. As special presentation was also delivered by Mr Asran Osman-Rani (CEO Air Asia X) who gave an incisive, humorous and riveting explanation (completely from memory) of how to run a Low Cost Carrier effectively in a difficult economic climate. Shortly thereafter Dr Brett Molesworth was promoted to Senior Lecturer in recognition of his outstanding research and teaching activities.

A new Frasca simulator was commissioned in October, to facilitate training on both the DA 40 and DA 42, following approvals by CASA. October 2011 also saw the joint appointment of Professor Mike Regan to both the School and TARS. Professor Regan is a human factors expert, with outstanding experience in research in human factors in both road and aviation safety. He began work immediately on an ARC Research Infrastructure proposal to provide equipment for the Australian Naturalistic Driving Study. Mr Ian Douglas was awarded his DBA becoming Dr Ian Douglas, and Mr Malcolm Good, Chief Flying Instructor, was awarded the 2011 Staff Excellence Award for Technical Staff.

Student numbers increased in 2012 over 2011 by approximately 10%. Further staffing developments in 2012 saw Dr Ian Douglas awarded a DBA, and Dr Carlo Caponecchia promoted to Senior Lecturer. Later in the year Dr Ian Douglas became a member of the International Air Services Commission, a body which advises the Australian government on international routes for Australian air carriers. The inaugural Qatar Airways interviews began, with senior Qatar Airways personnel travelling to UNSW to interview our third year management students. A number were subsequently employed, and the interview program has now become an annual event, thanks to the initiative of Dr Douglas.

In 2013 the Naturalistic Driving Study infrastructure proposal was funded, and work continued on the NDS Linkage Grant proposal. Dr David Tan was appointed as Lecturer in the area of Aviation Econometrics to strengthen the School’s quantitative analyses research and teaching capabilities, and course AVIA1902 Airline Financial Analysis and Decision Support was introduced. AVIA3900 Aviation and Sustainable Tourism was run for the first time at Lady Elliot Island by Dr Tay Koo. The School participated in the internal review of BAv (Flying) and BAv (Management) programs required by the Academic Board. Mr David Forsyth participated as Industry Panel Member, and Prof Hans Martin Niemeier (University of Bremen) was the other external Panel Member. In conjunction with the Business Faculty, a new 4 year dual degree (BCom/BAv Management) with high ATAR was introduced. This provided additional high quality students in 2014 and later.

In 2014 the School increased its taught load to 320. The BAv review was completed with a successful outcome with only minor changes recommended. Summer School programs with Temasek Polytechnic and the Hong Kong Direct Subsidy System School Council were introduced, these providing additional professional advice on the aviation industry in South East Asia, as well as providing contacts for potential future students. 12 students enrolled in the initial BCom/BAv program. The President and CEO of Garuda Indonesia Airlines, Mr Emirsyah Satar, visited UNSW and addressed more than 250 undergraduate students over the 3 years from the School of Aviation.

New program structures for postgraduate coursework programs, Graduate Diploma in Aviation Management and Master of Aviation Management, were approved by the Academic Board to align with the new policy set by the Australian Qualifications Framework. Both of these programs were successfully implemented in 2014. In the subsequent year, two new postgraduate courses were introduced with AVIA5037 Airline Operations and Delay Management, delivered by Dr Rich Wu, and AVIA5039 Airworthiness, delivered by Prof John Vincent.

In 2015 the building Airport leases at Bankstown Airport were extended for another 5 years. From a marketing perspective, the School introduced a “Current Affairs in South East Asia “ program with UNESCO in Hong Kong, and a “Current Affairs in Aviation in Australia” program with the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) South Eastern Section. Both are aimed at high school students.

In early April, Flying students Renee Close, Katie Seymour and Hayley Umbers received Sir Donald Anderson awards for the highest academic achievements in aviation theory exams. Professor Ian Jacobs visited the School as well as the Flying Operations Unit where Head of Operations Malcolm Good took the opportunity to fly Professor Jacobs and Shahina Mohamed down Victor 1 for a first hand view of Sydney. Professor Jason Middleton flew Peter Noble, Chief of Staff, and Jason Coombs along the same route.

In 2015 the Graduate Diploma in Advanced Flying program was approved by the relevant committees for operation in 2016, concurrently with the two key training courses

  • AVIF5915 Airline Pilot Multi-Crew Coordination
  • AVIF5916 Aeroplane Systems for Airline Pilots

Equipment procured for these courses included the Pacific Simulators PS 4.5 for the Multi-Crew Course, and the Aerosim DASH 8 Q400 Virtual Procedures Trainer for the Aeroplane Systems Course. The QantasLink MOU was publicised in August 2015. The TARS research group was reviewed in 2015, with recommendations to continue, and the Schools taught load grew to 332.

Dr Rich Wu was promoted to Associate Professor effective January 2016, while Dr Douglas was appointed Chair of the IASC.

Our CASA approvals came through in February 2016, permitting operation under CASR Parts 141/142. Mr Brian Horton (Director of Flight Operations now holds the CASA CEO position while Mr Malcolm Good becomes the Head of Operations. Rodney Hyde becomes the Standards Manager, and Peter Arnold the Head of Airworthiness and Maintenance Control (HAAMC). An Operations Advisory Board was established to provide advice to the Heads of School (and UNSW senior management) on the operational aspects of the Flying Operations Unit. Application was made to CASA for MCC course approval.

Later in 2016, Virgin Australia CEO Mr John Borghetti gave a Q&A discussion (led by stalwart Ron Rosalky) to the entire school.

Initial enrolments for the Graduate Diploma in Advanced Flying were taken, and mid year entry was approved for the Bachelor of Aviation (Flying). The Graduate Diploma in Flying was approved for entry by applicants holding a cognate degree.

Professor Ann Williamson was awarded the “Australian College of Road Safety Fellowship” for her outstanding research in road safety by the Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester on 7th September. Instructor Mr Roy Kelly won the UNSW Excellence in Professional Services Award for 2016.

Taught Load for 2016 reached an all-time high of 348 EFTSL. Total graduates from all programs to the end of 2016 was1667.

In 2017 Professor Jason Middleton retired as Head of School, having led UNSW Aviation from its inception in 1995. Professor Gabriel Lodewijks took up duties as head of School on February 1st.

Department Staff in 1995
Department Staff in 1995
Former Flying Training Unit at Bankstown Airport
Former Flying Training Unit at Bankstown Airport

Wings Night Speakers

2010: Capt Barry Jackson, President of the Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA) and a Qantas B747 Captain gave an inspiring presentation about his career, which began flying commercially in New Guinea. His briefing on the new aviation technologies excited many.

2011: Dr Simon Henderson, a Virgin Australia Captain and Flight Standards Manager for the VA Airbus 330 fleet, gave the 2011 Wings Night address. With vast experience in operating with Ansett Airlines, Emirates Airlines and with a PhD (UNSW) in Situation Awareness, Dr (Capt) Henderson’s presentation was of great interest to all.

2012: Wings night guest of honour was Squadron Leader David Bell, formerly a flying Graduate of UNSW Aviation. Having flown RAAF FA18s, and being a Graduate of the US Navy test Pilot School SQNLDR Bell’s accounts of his experiences, and advice to our flying students was compelling.

2013: Capt John Gissing, CEO of QantasLink, and a former Jetstar Captain, gave an inspiring presentation which gave substantial motivation to all those present, as he began his flying career at Bankstown Airport.

2014: The guest of honour was Ronald Houghton, DFC, PhD, and Legion of Honour. Dr Houghton was Formerly a RAAF WW2 bomber pilot and fighter pilot, and flew after ww2 with Qantas and Air Lanka as an Airline Captain. His presentation was fascinating as he recalled events which amazed the entire audience.

2015: Mr Dick Smith gave a fascinating account of his experiences as an aviation adventurer, which motivated all present to want to go out and repeat some of his exploits. As perhaps the leading aviation adventurer of this decade, Dick had the audience spellbound with his amazing tales, told in a very unassuming and practical fashion.

2016: Major Helen Mammino, Officer Commanding 171 Squadron (Blackhawk Special Operations) gave the Wings Night annual guest presentation, with an inspiring account of her flying career. As the first female to take on the role of OC 171 Squadron, Major Mammino gave perhaps the most inspiring presentation ever, prompting all to want to go out and have a rotary wing career.