For Griffith aviation graduate and pilot Cameron Stuart, the freedom and logistics of flying are his constant companion and passion.

The First Officer for QANTASLink has found his skills are still in demand despite the fallout from Coronavirus, and he is optimistic the aviation industry will emerge from the crisis stronger than before.

“It’s slowly getting back to the new normal, whatever that may be in the future,” Cameron said.

“It’s the biggest challenge the industry has ever faced, but people like to travel too much and there are too many stakeholders at risk for that not to happen.

“I would certainly be optimistic that the travelling demand, particularly the domestic market, is surely going to increase in the coming months, certainly by the end of the year, even with the option of selected international travel with New Zealand.”

Cameron feels lucky to still be flying.

“At the moment, I’m currently on a rotating stand down period, which is something that the pilot group has come to a conclusion that we’re going to share the stand down period, very fortunately for me, that there is still some flying available through the regional and natural resources sectors,” he said.

“So I’m one of the lucky pilots in Australia at the moment where it’s not so good for the international scene, just as a result of legislature and managing the current crisis.”

Top of the class

Graduating in the top five per cent of Griffith students, Cameron received the Griffith University Award for Academic Excellence.

He was innovative in his quest to become a QANTASLink pilot, becoming a qualified flight instructor to ensure he could get the flying hours to fulfil his dream of flying while also satisfying his passion for teaching and learning.

“You learn these basic theories that are true for even a paper airplane, and they translate to a space shuttle in some instances,” he said.

“It’s just building and increasing that operational complexity versus depth of knowledge to effectively apply any principles to flying the aircraft.

“So I obtained the tangible flight qualifications and then went on and did some further studies privately, which would then allow me to eventually obtain an airline pilot transport licence.”

While at university he was actively involved in student life as Chief Student Pilot of Griffith University Aviation and a sitting Student Representative on the Griffith Aviation Industry Advisory Board.

He said that broad experience has served him well, especially in his role now as a pilot and First Officer with QANTASLink.

“Out of the Brisbane base in the Q400 aircraft, we go as far south as Canberra, as far north as Cairns and as far west as Longreach,” he said.

“Our longest sector is just over two hours and then our shortest sector can be as short as 30 minutes on some days.

“So it certainly provides diversity in workload. Some days you’re doing longer sectors mixed with shorter sectors.

“You’ve really got to be on the ball there and you’re operating into aerodromes that are not as well equipped if you consider the comparison between an international airport versus a regional airport, which is not too much of an improvement on a country road in some circumstances. So it’s certainly a diverse operating environment.”

Next steps

Cameron is looking to further study, to enable the next step in his flying career into aviation management, as well as teaching at Griffith University as a sessional.

“I think Griffith University as a whole is great for doing that, engaging people from industry and then allowing that to go back to the teaching quality and the student body, and that helps with learning, networking and everything in between,” he said.

He said there is still part of him that is the teenage boy who started out as an apprentice and was intrigued with how planes worked.

“They’re marvels of engineering and it’s amazing to be able to go to work and truly love and engage with awesome technology that defies logic in many cases,” he said.

“People are still amazed when you tell them that you’re a pilot. And everyone’s always got that aviation question that they’re dying to ask. In many cases, it’s a lot simpler and pretty disappointing, the answer.

“It’s not magic, it’s physics, but I don’t ever to go to work and I’m not entertained and don’t enjoy what I’m doing.”

He is confident that the aviation industry will recover from any coronavirus setbacks.

“It’s going to change the landscape in the shorter term, but aviation has been around for nearly 120 years now and it’s a dynamic industry,” he said.

“The world’s only getting smaller and air travel allows that to happen. So yeah, it’ll certainly bounce back.”

You can hear more of Cameron Stuart’s story in his episode of Remarkable Tales.