Student Pilots From Ireland Attending Florida Institute Of Technology Get The Boot
 
  
 
 
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Student Pilots From Ireland Attending Florida Institute Of Technology Get The Boot
 
By Mike Mitchell
 

July 10, 2012 - The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) has begun an investigation into the flight training program at Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) in Melbourne, Florida in which Pilot Training Centre in Waterford (PTCW) Ireland had a contract with FIT to provide pilot training to its students.  

It appears that the students had paid in full for their training with FIT however, FIT has terminated the students training and there are reports the students are stranded in Florida after being told that their course will not be continuing. 

In a statement, PTCW reported it had terminated its contract with FIT, following what PTCW said was the Florida institute's "non-performance". PTCW further reported that some of the students attending FIT will lose their money as the company had paid FIT for services that FIT has not yet delivered on.

 

PTC Executive Chairman Mike Edgeworth said "We regret very, very much what has happened and we apologize fully to all our students. Edgeworth further sated that both FIT and PTCW had been doing business since 2008, but their current problems are due to “issues that are beyond our control". One student reported that he will be in debt for over $100,000. 

At this point in time it is unclear why FIT decided to cancel services with PTCW. It has been reported that PTCW owes FIT over $1 million for student pilot training. What is clear is that PTCW is having some funding issues as reported by IAA. The Irish Aviation Authority which is a state owned company in the Republic of Ireland that is responsible for the regulation of safety aspects of air travel released a statement today:   

“The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) regulates, approves and oversees flight training organizations. The IAAs primary functions in this regard are the oversight of the safety, quality and standard of the training being delivered, the conduct of examinations and flight tests. The IAA also has the capacity to seek evidence that the organization has sufficient resources in place to conduct training to the approved standards. 

“The Pilot Training College in Waterford (PTCW) is such a flight training organization. PTCW also has a pilot training college in Melbourne, Florida to take advantage of the better weather for visual flight operations. Students undergoing training in Florida normally return to Ireland to complete the multi-engine/multi-crew and instrument rating to European standards.

 

 

“PTCW has a contract in place with the Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) to deliver the flight training in Florida. On June 26th the IAA were informed that FIT were ceasing all training activities in Florida for PTCW due to a commercial dispute concerning payments. The IAA immediately sent a senior inspector to establish the training situation and he has now met the students. There are 180 students approximately in the Florida facility and 37 currently in Waterford at various stages of training. The students comprise both sponsored students from international airlines and those with individual commercial contracts with PTCW.  Students have paid PTCW for training and PTCW have a commercial relationship with FIT to provide flight / ground training etc. Contracts between self-sponsored or airline sponsored students and their training organization are matters outside the remit of the IAA. 

“At a meeting today (Wednesday 4th July 2012) with PTCW, and their financial / legal advisers the IAA, (in accordance with JAR, Joint Aviation Requirements Flight Crew Licensing) sought evidence and assurances that sufficient funding is available to continue operations in Waterford, given that the Florida operations have  ceased. PTCW informed the IAA that they were investigating restructuring options but that this process would take 10 days to complete. The IAA has suspended the flight training approval for PTCW immediately. The IAA will re-engage with any proposals emerging from this process but in the interim training in Waterford is suspended. 

“The IAA will try to ensure that all training conducted to date in Waterford and Florida will be credited to the individuals training records and our staff are now working on this. The students at the centre of this and their families are a primary concern for us," said Kevin Humphreys, Director of Safety Regulation, IAA. "As soon as we became aware that there was an issue, we moved straight away to assess what solutions we could find that would allow the students to bank the training credits they have already achieved in Florida, and to allow them to finish their training. 

"We are still working on both of these issues but it looks like students may well now be facing a loss which PTCW informed us today that they will endeavor to mitigate as part of the restructuring process. The IAA hopes that a satisfactory outcome can be achieved to enable students to complete their training and we will continue to assist in every way possible including directing students to alternative providers.”

July 5, 2012 – Update - Florida Institute of Technology released the following statement: “Following the recent termination of its educational agreement with Pilot Training College, Florida Institute of Technology continues to work with PTC students to evaluate future training options. Florida Tech recently ended its relationship with PTC after the organization quit paying its bills, including costs for flight training and room and board. Currently, PTC owes the university approximately $1.2 million.  

“These funds owed the university are for services already rendered—any monies students paid PTC for training stay on deposit with PTC until services are rendered by Florida Tech. Any assertion that Florida Tech has failed to act professionally or otherwise appropriately throughout its relationship with PTC is false. The university has spent months attempting to resolve the ongoing payment issues with PTC, but with no success. Florida Tech’s priority remains assisting the affected flight students in any way possible. Legal action against PTC is anticipated. Given this, no additional comment is planned at this time.”

July 9, 2012 – Update - Florida Institute of Technology released the following statement: Florida Institute of Technology continues to assist the 186 flight students whose training has ended after their contracting flight company, PTC, quit paying its bills. As of July 9, as many as 89 of the students 25 self-pay students and 64 Air Astana students were making plans to stay and continue their training. Meanwhile, the university extended its offer of housing to all affected students through Aug. 1, while simultaneously working to help the students meet their visa requirements.

“We want to give these students as much time as we can to consider all of their options, while also giving them as much support as we can,” said Wes Sumner, Florida Tech spokesman. A revised estimate indicates that PTC owes the university approximately $1.4 million for services already rendered— Florida Tech received no advance fees that PTC collected from students prior to entering the program. The university has spent months attempting to resolve the ongoing payment issues with PTC, but with no success. Sumner said Florida Tech’s priority remains assisting the affected flight students in any way possible. Legal action against PTC has been initiated.

July 10, 2012 - Update - Statement on arrangements for Pilot Training College students - "The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, has requested that the The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA)  make arrangements to help repatriate any self-funded PTC students at Florida Institute of Technology who wish to return home. To facilitate this, the IAA has made arrangements with Aer Lingus to accommodate students on flights from Orlando to Dublin between 11th July and 1st August 2012.  

"Students who wish to avail of this offer must register their details with the Irish Aviation Authority at info@iaa.ie Onward travel arrangements for those not domiciled in Ireland may also be arranged. The IAA has notified the students of these arrangements via the Florida Institute of Technology's information portal. For self-funded PTC students who have already returned from Orlando, Florida, may have their air fare refunded to the value of a one way economy class fare by submitting their details to info@iaa.ie Students may also contact the IAA Helpline at 01 603 1111 from 09:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. tomorrow 11th July 2012 for further information."

July 13, 2012 – Update - on arrangements for Florida Pilot Training College students IAA stated “Following a request by the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, the IAA has been making arrangements to help repatriate any self-funded PTC students at Florida Institute of Technology who are unable to continue their current pilot training and wish to return home. To facilitate this, arrangements have been made with Aer Lingus to accommodate students on flights from Orlando to Dublin between 11th July and 1st August 2012. Students who wish to avail of this offer must register their intention to travel with the Irish Aviation Authority at info@iaa.ie no later than 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday 17th July 2012, in order to ensure that seats can be secured on return flights.

"Onward travel arrangements for those not domiciled in Ireland may also be arranged. The IAA has notified the students of these arrangements via the Florida Institute of Technologys information portal. Self-funded PTC students who have already returned from Orlando, Florida, may have their air fare refunded to the value of a one way economy class fare by submitting their details to info@iaa.ie Please note that the current priority is to ensure timely arrangements are made to repatriate those affected students who are unable to continue their current pilot training and who wish to return home. Once this is completed, the IAA will process refund applications from those students who had already left the USA since 26th June 2012. Students may also contact the IAA Helpline at +353 1 603 1111 from 10:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. Monday - Friday for further information”

July 18, 2012 - Update - At a hearing in the High Court today an Interim Examiner was appointed to handle the affairs of PTC Ireland. IAA will work with the Interim Examiner in assessing the options available in respect of the suspended approvals issued by the Authority. Creditors of PTC Ireland will be notified of the outcome of the hearing and advised of their options. Enquiries relating to financial difficulties being experienced by students with regard to the provision of their training should be addressed directly to the Interim Examiner.

July 27, 2012 - Update on the arrangements for repatriation of Pilot Training College (Florida) Students. IAA would advise that the arrangements set out below will be applied to finalise the repatriation of PTC (Florida) students. The latest date for flight bookings is now revised to 15 August 2012 for a one-way economy class flight. The final date for embarking on the return flight is 30 September 2012. Students are required to book and pay for their own flights for which the IAA will refund up to the value of €750. Students will be required to notify the IAA  info@iaa.ie  of their intended flight arrangements prior to travel to qualify for the scheme.  

(see Irish Pilots Look To Future After Pilot Training College Program Ends)

 
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