Interim examiner appointed to pilot training school
A HIGH Court judge has granted court protection to a Waterford-based pilot training school while it endeavours to find a way out of its financial difficulties.
The Pilot Training College of Ireland (PTCI) was at the centre of controversy recently over its students being left stranded in Florida.
Mr Justice Brian McGovern yesterday appointed Michael McAteer as interim examiner to the company after its directors petitioned the court for protection saying they believed a survival plan can be put together.
The training school said the cause of its difficulties included the breakdown of its relationship with its US partner, Florida Institute of Technology Aviation (FITA). Earlier this month about 80 trainees were left stranded after being told their training would not be continuing. Each had paid €80,000 for the course.
The college offers a 14-month full-time course to obtain a pilot’s licence. The initial part is carried out in Florida and the remainder is completed in Ireland. PTCI had subcontracted the initial part to the Florida institute while an associated company, Pilot Training College Florida (PTCF), carried out the next part.
The pilot training college’s chief executive Michael Edgeworth, who founded the company in 2002 with Tony Kember, said in an affidavit the FITA part of the training was, under the contract, to be completed within a set number of weeks.
However, in 2011 and 2012, training turnaround time in Florida fell into arrears and this had very serious consequences for the training college because resources in Waterford for the rest of the course were not being utilised in the scheduled time, he said. Customers were lost due to dissatisfaction with the training provided.
Substantial losses were also incurred in having to provide additional accommodation and training because FITA was using inexperienced instructors, Mr Edgeworth said.
Tensions arose between PTCI and the FITA and there was ultimately “a complete breakdown” in the relationship.
FITA and the Florida Institute of Technology have since issued court proceedings in Florida against PTCI and PTCF, Mr Edgeworth said.
The breakdown forced the company to suspend training with FITA which in turn led to the Irish Aviation Authority suspending the essential approval for the training.
Mark O’Mahony, for the pilot training college in Waterford, told Mr Justice McGovern there were three expressions of interest from prospective investors.
Mr Justice McGovern said in circumstances where an independent accountant had indicated, if certain conditions were met, the company had a reasonable prospect of survival, he would appoint Mr McAteer interim examiner. He returned the matter to July 26th.