Irish Flight Students Stranded in Florida – Shameful!

Posted on Jul 12, 2012

Irish Flight Students Stranded in Florida – Shameful!

Eighty  student pilots, of which 34 were Irish, have been stranded at a flight school in Melbourne, Florida after paying an obscene amount of money for training that could have been accomplished for a fraction of the cost, and in much less time.  Unfortunately, they and their families were taken in by glitzy marketing and seemingly unscrupulous government officials who led them down the garden path.  We met with one student who spent the past 10 months at the school in Melbourne and received only 25 hours of flight training during that time. He told of another student who spent nearly 6 months there and received only 1 hour of flight training to date! It appears that the flight school in Waterford Ireland that recruited these students and took upwards of 85,000 Euro in training fees per student,  is using the excuse that this is just a “financial dispute” between them and their US partner (see Irish Times July 11, 2012), and in the same article the other culpable party, the Irish Aviation Authority, now with the Minister of Transportation is funding the return travel of some of the students back to their home country.  We are viewing this debacle with eyebrows raised…. Why would the IAA fund return travel for the students? This in and of itself seems quite suspect.  Where is the money, and why was the school in the US not paid per their contractural agreement? Why are they now recommending another excessively expensive school in Oxford England to complete the training, and how are these students to pay for it now?

Potential pilots have many questions when it comes to training required to become an airline pilot.  Their first source of information today is usually the Internet.  As they progress they typically end up going to the “authority” in charge of aviation in their country for further clarification and direction.  When that authority and in this case, the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA), directs them to certain schools with the implication that those schools are somehow superior and financially sound, one would believe that would be the best course of action.  However, when that direction comes with no actual audit of the financial statements by an expert, the results are disasterous.  The fact that Enterprise Ireland invested heavily in the Waterford school in question, along with their cohorts in the IAA,  creates a massive conflict of interest.  Of course now they have a vested interest in promoting a school, even as it developed a reputation of an entity that was spending lavishly on facilities and equipment, sponsorships of local events that had nothing to do with aviation such as a beauty contest in Southwest Ireland, and other red flags that no one seemed to notice.  Important fellows all, cavorting in Tralee, “Captains” of Industry, roses at their feet.

Many schools in Europe have joint agreements with flight schools in the US under the auspices of their national Aviation Authorities.  These schools have gone into a business partnership with their training counterparts in the USA.  The overall costs passed on to the student are reflective of these partnerships  and are exorbitant and unnecessary.  Too many flight training students have been taken advantage of by the combined marketing prowess of these companies.

For those prospective flight students who wish to earn an EASA (formerly JAA) Commercial Pilot License(CPL), there is an option that is much less costly and more efficient.  Complete your EASA written exams which gives you the “frozen ATPL”.  From there, attend a flight school in the USA and obtain your Private Pilot License, Instrument Rating, and Multi-Engine Commercial License – 0 to 250 hours in about 16 weeks.  You are then ready to return to Europe and convert your FAA CPL license to a European CPL license (about 2 weeks), and take a Multi-Crew Cooperation Course (about 2 weeks).  You’ll then be ready for the flight deck of a major airline, in a fraction of the time and money you may have thought necessary, with not one but two continental commercial pilot licenses in your pocket allowing you to work virtually anywhere in the world.  Anyone telling you that this plan is not possible is spinning you a yarn….again.


  1. Hit the nail on the head with this BLOG. The Irish Times now shows the students protesting in front of Leinster house. It looks like millions of Euro have vanished and they are still discussing an investigation on what happened.
    Let me summarize…….
    90 students X 85,000 Euros = 7,650,000 euros.


  2. This happened to many schools when I was training in the 90’s. I was very careful with my money especially when it came to giving in advance. I feel very bad for these students but I cant believe they gave so much money in advance. My only advise is get a job and work to save the money to finish. Waiting around for government to take care of you is probably as futile in Ireland as it would be here.
    Thanks for all your advise Jack

    Capt. Rivera (Boeing 777)

  3. What is with these journalists? Why can’t they just say what happened? What’s
    with all the beating around the bush….. “training abruptly ended due to a
    financial dispute…” funding for travel for those students who “wish to leave
    the US” — their visas were pulled, they had to leave. It’s really sad isn’t
    it that they won’t just say that the money was mismanaged or worse, PTC
    (Waterford based Pilot Training College) is now bankrupt and no one is saying
    where the principals are or how the money was used.

    No matter if Ireland is a small pond with big fish, the reality is these 80 or
    more young people were bilked out of upwards of $85,000 plus travel and living
    expenses, etc., etc…. and nobody seems willing to admit it.

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