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Sat, Jul 07, 2012

Irish Student Pilots Grounded

Financial Dispute Shuts Down Training Center

The ‘Luck of the Irish’ has apparently abandoned as many as 80 Irish student pilots who are now stranded in the U.S. and facing potential financial losses of as much as 80,000 Euros each. At issue is a failed contract agreement between the Pilot Training Center of Ireland and the Florida Institute of Technology Aviation and each side is blaming the other.

The students reportedly paid fees to the PTC of Waterford, Ireland for pilot training which they were to receive from the Florida Pilot Training College. However, In a statement, PTC confirmed it had terminated its contract with FIT, following what PTC said was the Florida institute's "non-performance". PTC claims it has paid for training that the students have not received. The students said a FIT representative told them that it had not received two payments due from the PTC,

Now the Irish Aviation Authority has pulled the training license of the Irish training center and the students seem to be caught in the middle.

The mother of one 19-year-old student pilot told Irelands RTÉ News that they had noticed problems with the course at an early stage.
She said her son, who does not wish to be identified, began the course in November of last year and it was 12 weeks before he was given his first flying lesson.

Each of the students reportedly paid over 84,000 Euros in four installments into a fund in Dublin for the Irish Pilot Training Center. From there the funds were to be transferred to the Florida center. PTC Executive Chairman Mike Edgeworth said: "We regret very, very much what has happened and we apologize fully to all our students. "We have been trading very successfully for ten years and our current problems are due to issues that are beyond our control".

One student, Daniel McLernon says the students have been left in the dark. "We've basically been sitting around since then doing nothing. We've been told absolutely nothing,” he told Ireland’s RTE News.

The IAA said in its own statement that it is aware of certain difficulties with the Florida Pilot Training College. An IAA officer is reportedly in Florida to brief the students and to explore means by which they might be able to continue their training either in Florida or back in Ireland.

Compounding the situation is the student’s housing situation. One parent said her son and the others were to be evicted from their Florida housing on July 15th. The students’ visas are set to expire on the 17th. PTC confirmed that all students will be accommodated in Florida until July 15 and their visas will remain valid until July 17.

PTC Executive Chairman Mike Edgeworth said it has entered into commercial negotiations with FIT to resolve the problem. As for the students’ financial worries Edgeworth said 39 students who have recently enrolled in PTC should not be financially impacted and for 25 people who recently started training, he said the financial impact "should be minimal".

FMI: www.rte.ie

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