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Wednesday, July 04, 2012
Up to 80 Irish trainee pilots who paid as much as €83,000 for flight training are stranded in Florida after being told their course will not be continuing.
The trainees — who had paid fees to the Waterford-based Pilot Training Centre of Ireland — were told 10 days ago by the Florida Institute of Technology Aviation they were not allowed into the air again. They were later told FIT’s contract with the training centre was terminated. FIT provides the training courses in association with PTC.
As part of the course, trainees are sent to Florida — where better weather conditions mean better visibility — for 10 months’ training before returning to Dublin, Waterford, or Cambridge in England for another four months before sitting exams.
The students and their families have no idea if their fees are to be returned. In recent days, they were told they had to leave their campus accommodation before the middle of this month.
It is also believed PTC’s Florida offices were closed yesterday.
PTC Ireland could not be contacted last night, but emails have been sent from PTC chief executive Mike Edgeworth to the students, reassuring them they were "continuing to work towards a solution to these difficulties".
"PTC is in active negotiations with an alternative provider and we have informed FIT that this is our intention," he said. "We are unable to provide any further information at this time, as these negotiations are delicate."
One mother said her son was told "it would cost him €60,000 to continue his training in another Florida aviation school". He started training late last year.
Fianna Fáil senator Denis O’Donovan said "young people had been taken advantage of by the company". "The minister and the Irish Aviation Authority must be held accountable," he said.
The IAA, which regulates, approves, and oversees flight training organisations, has held discussions with PTC and FIT.
"An officer of the IAA is meeting with PTC Waterford representatives to clarify the situation at the training facility," said a spokeswoman.
"We will endeavour to facilitate the crediting of all flight and ground training carried out so far in Florida towards qualifications. The IAA hopes that a satisfactory outcome can be achieved to enable students to complete their training."
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