They’re a relic from Australia’s aviation history but to the Qantas Founders Museum in Longreach, the boarding stairs recently donated signify a big step forward, thanks to a recently signed partnership between the museum and CQUniversity.
According to the university’s associate vice chancellor, Blake Repine, an MOU between the two organisations marks an exciting commitment to developing a long-term partnership for innovation.
The first collaborative project is to restore the set of stairs invented by renowned Qantas engineer, George Roberts, in 1959, for use with the Boeing 707s that came into operation that year.
Built by Hastings Deering Services in Lidcombe, Sydney, they revolutionised the way people board and disembark planes.
Nicknamed the ‘Batmobile’ because of the vehicle’s prominent fins, Qantas would go on to sell them to other airlines around the world, making them a significant asset to the Longreach museum and a rare find.
The renovation project, involving automotive, electrical and engineering student apprentices, is expected to take 18 months to complete, and is hoped to be the first of many projects that could involve hospitality, event planning, aviation and research streams at CQUniversity.
Another of the significant projects the Qantas Founders Museum is undertaking in the lead-up to the airline’s centenary in two years time is Q100, which is seeking out the stories of the hundred people with the most influence on the development of Qantas.
“Right from soldiers fighting at Gallipoli, to the indigenous component, women and inventors – there’s significant research to be done,” Qantas Founders Museum CEO, Tony Martin, said.
“The university is at the cutting edge of film and television, and understands the research involved and how to deliver it.
“We also envisage a partnership in tourism and hospitality, which is experiencing a skill shortage at present.
“Tourism is one of the fastest growing industries in the country and CQUniversity has the potential to be leaders in our region, to have students placed and get marketing and connectivity experience.”
Mr Martin said a mini education hub was being set up in Longreach, which the university partnership would contribute to by giving students the chance to be immersed in experiences in the area.
Mr Repine said that as the largest regional university in Queensland, engagement was one of CQUniversity’s values.
“We’ve started with the stairs but now we can look at an enduring relationship on many levels,” he said.