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.
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 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). In 2010, postgraduate graduates numbered 26 and Bachelor degree graduates numbered 80. 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 us 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 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. 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.