Air Affairs - Come Fly with Me
Mon 09 Jul 2018
A Shoalhaven aerospace company is having so much trouble finding skilled staff, it has begun planning development of its own locally based training school.
Air Affairs was set up as a two man operation Nowra in the mid 80's.
Providing aerial target towing services for the military, the company expanded to 30 people in its first 20 years.
However, in the last 3 years, the workforce has more than trebled to 130 employees, with further growth on the horizon.
Managing Director Chris Sievers says there are now four pillars to the company; aircraft operations, the national fire mapping contract, precision machining and drone operations.
Air Affairs currently has 15 Nowra based Lear Jet and King Air turbo prop aircraft, plus 3 fighters, which operate out of the Williamtown RAAF base, near Newcastle.
Chris says the company currently employs 15 apprentices, but the biggest challenge is getting enough staff.
So much so, if 30 people with the right skills walked through the door today, they could start tomorrow.
Faced with such severe shortages, Chris says the only solution is for the company to start its own aerospace training school.
Once operational, it will be based in the Albatross Aviation Technology Park.
Meantime, planning is also underway to re-locate and expand the Air Affairs Precision Machining Shop.
It too will be established in new facilities at the Technology Park.
The aerial fire mapping side of the business is now so advanced a plane can be overhead of a blaze anywhere in Australia within 4 hours.
The crew can then begin sending back data on the progression of the fire within ten minutes.
The cutting edge technology was developed in Nowra, and Chris says there is potential to take it anywhere in the world.
During the recent fire at Tathra, an aircraft left Nowra at 4am, mapped the blaze, and within 2 hours the RFS had developed its strategy for water bombing and tanker placement for the entire day.
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