[b]Looks / sounds like PTC were "pulling the wool"[/b]
The Irish Aviation Authority has suspended flight-training approval for the Waterford-based Pilot Training Centre of Ireland (PTC) after 80 trainee Irish pilots were told their course is being halted.
The IAA sought evidence from PTC today that they were financially sound. PTC could not give this assurance.
The trainee pilots were told 10 days ago by the Florida Institute of Technology Aviation (FIT) that they were not allowed into the air again, the Irish Examiner's Claire O'Sullivan reports.
FIT provides the training courses in association with the PTC. The students pay their €83,000 in fees upfront to PTC, who pass on the agreed rates to FIT.
They have been told FIT's contract with the training centre was terminated.
PTC has tried to lay the blame for the fiasco at the door of FIT, saying the termination of the course follows "a lengthy period of negotiation during which PTC attempted to have FIT deliver on training contracts in a timely and professional manner".
They say the problems between both sides were created by the "non-delivery of services by FIT".
The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) regulates, approves and oversees flight training organisations here. In a statement this evening, the IAA said it was informed on June 26 that FIT were ceasing all training activities in Florida for PTC due to a commercial dispute concerning payments.
The IAA sent a senior inspector to establish the training situation and he has now met the students.
'Students the priority'
At a meeting today with PTC, the IAA said it "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 now suspended the flight training approval for PTCW.
"The IAA will re-engage with any proposals emerging from this process but in the interim training in Waterford is suspended," it said in tonight's statement.
"The students at the centre of this and their families are a primary concern for us," said Kevin Humphreys, director of safety regulation in the 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 endeavour to mitigate as part of the restructuring process."