General Aviation

Fuelling connectivity across the region and expanding a skilled workforce

Advance Cairns calls on the Queensland Government to invest in key projects in the general aviation sector as part of our continued push to diversify the economy and build a resilient future for the region. This submission marks the first phase of Advance Cairns’ advocacy ahead of the 2024-25 Queensland Budget.

The projects include a new Common User Hangar for the general aviation (maintenance, repair and overhaul) sector, an Australia-first Cessna Caravan full flight simulator to train pilots and short-term accommodation at the Cairns Airport precinct to address critical demand, specifically to provide quality affordable housing for students.

Cairns Airport’s General Aviation Precinct is a thriving hub that contributes significantly to the regional economy. With more than 100 businesses, including education centres like Cairns Aviation Skills Centre and CQUniversity, major maintenance and repair organisations, freight consolidation services, and charter flights, this precinct plays a pivotal role in Far North Queensland’s maintenance, repair, and overhaul sector (MRO).

The MRO sector ensures seamless connectivity for fixed-wing and rotary aircraft operating in the Cape, Torres Strait, Papua New Guinea, and the wider Asia-Pacific region. The services provided by this precinct are crucial for emergency, humanitarian aid, and FIFO flights.

Jet Aviation is the only independent provider of heavy maintenance for large turboprop and regional jet aircraft in Australia, while Skytek is the sole independent MRO for fixed and rotary-wing on the East Coast. The precinct is also home to an exciting proposal for an advanced fibre and composites manufacturing and repair facility that will unlock substantial opportunities for the future.

Common User Hangar

The region’s aviation sector, especially turboprop and regional jet maintenance, is growing, but outdated facilities have led to grounded aircraft and an estimated loss of $15 million in business.

To address this, a new common user hangar facility is urgently needed to meet demand, ensuring critical services, growth, and sector expansion.

This new facility will provide state-of-the-art infrastructure, reduce downtime, and attract new businesses, creating job opportunities and contributing to the regional economy.


The Queensland Government invests $45m to deliver a 10,000m² hangar within the Cairns Airport Eastern Aviation Precinct which is to be owned and operated under a common user model incorporating commercial general aviation partner engagement.

Cessna Caravan Flight Simulator

The introduction of a Cessna Caravan flight simulator in Cairns could establish the region as a national hub for pilot training.

This simulator, which could be the first of its kind outside the United States, will ensure that pilots are well-prepared for the unique regional conditions, enable ongoing training for existing pilots, enhance safety standards, and build regional aviation capacity.

It will also benefit Indigenous communities, Papua New Guinea, and the Pacific by freeing up aircraft for vital operations.


The Queensland Government invests $8m capital cost to establish Australia’s first Cessna Caravan simulator to ensure safe training across commercial and humanitarian sectors, establishing the city as the only such centre for specific pilot training across Australia and the wider Asia-Pacific.

Short-term Accommodation

Quality short-term accommodation within the airport precinct is a vital element of the sector’s expansion.

To support professional, skilled, and contract workers as the region grows, such accommodation is necessary. In the long run, it will also provide affordable purpose-built housing for students, which is much needed.


The Queensland Government invests $10m towards development of quality short-term accommodation within the Cairns Airport precinct to address critical demand, particularly for students as part of a broader accommodation development project.

This submission marks the first phase of Advance Cairns’ advocacy ahead of the 2024-25 Queensland Budget.

Last updated: 17 November 2023

2024-25 Queensland Budget Submission

View the full list of projects and policies that feature in our 2024-25 Queensland Budget Submission.