Laois pilots grounded

TWO Laois trainee pilots have been left grounded by the recent conflict between the Waterford based Pilot Training Centre of Ireland (PTC) and the Florida Institute of Technology Aviation (FIT).

TWO Laois trainee pilots have been left grounded by the recent conflict between the Waterford based Pilot Training Centre of Ireland (PTC) and the Florida Institute of Technology Aviation (FIT).

The Irish Aviation Authority has suspended the training licence of the PTC and a number of trainee pilots have been left stranded in Florida after being told that their course will not be continuing.

Cathal Simpson from Stradbally is one of those currently out in Florida. His mother Ann told the Leinster Express that what has happened is “devastating and hurtful. “It is outrageous, he has had this dream since he was 11 years old. He can’t understand how someone has taken that much advantage of them.” Cathal spent last year in Florida training and, after spending Christmas at home, travelled back out.

Cathal has only 15 hours of flying left and one exam to complete, but has been told that it may cost him approximately €30,000 to finish the course now. “At the moment he has no options. The students were sent an email stating that they have to be out of their college accomodation by July 15 and their visas will run out on July 17,” said Ann. “Cathal really enjoyed his time out there. I’ve seen the training college and it is a beautiful place. I even went flying with Cathal. I’m really concerned about my son, he said there is an air of despair out there, the lads feel they have nothing to show for their training.”

Portlaoise man Mark Ryan who is back in Laois, told the Leinster Express that he only had four weeks left on his training to be completed in Waterford.

“I had all of my Florida training complete in late 2009, and I took a break to raise money, and now I can’t complete my training. I’m down about €18,500 out of it. There hasn’t been much communication from the PTC. They have said that they are trying to find alternative providers but we will have to pay the difference. We could do that ourselves. They are just trying to make themselves look good”.

The Irish Airline Pilots Association have emailed students in Florida stating that they have asked for Aer Lingus assistance in returning self sponsored cadets and trainees to Dublin via Orlando.

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