Fraud detectives probe collapse of flight school that cost parents €5m
THE Garda Fraud Squad is probing the collapse of the Pilot Training College that left parents around €5m out of pocket.
The collapse of the Pilot Training College of Ireland (PTC) in July 2012, following a dispute with the Florida Institute of Technology, left hundreds of students in limbo after paying €85,000 up front.
Many were forced to abandon their flight training completely.
The students' parents hope to recoup some money once the liquidation of the company has been completed.
However, they have been warned by solicitors that they stand little chance of getting anything back.
A proposed joint Oireachtas hearing on the issue was dropped without explanation, according to parent Martina Kealy from Castleknock in Dublin, who lost €73,000.
Ms Kealy and her husband Brian remortgaged the family home to pay for son Richard's two-year training course.
When the Waterford college collapsed, they were left with no option but to remortgage the house for a second time to allow him to continue with his studies, this time in Cork.
Ms Kealy said: "My husband has a good job but his salary doesn't cover two remortgages so I now I work too."
Ms Kealy also revealed how one woman used up her life-savings to pay for her nephew's course.
With no prospect of completing his flight training, the woman's nephew decided to emigrate.
"These are the people I am most worried about," she added.
The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) gave the PTC its flight training licence but denies any responsibility towards the students.
However, Ms Kealy claimed it was the IAA's withdrawal of approval for PTC as a flight training organisation, on the basis of their financial position, in July 2012, which effectively ended PTC's training role.
"In our view there were many failings on the part of the IAA in their oversight of PTC," she said.
"We had great hopes when the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communication in October 2012 decided in public session to undertake a 'forensic inquiry' into the demise of PTC.
"However, they then cruelly reversed this decision in private session," she said.
She claimed the committee were now "seeking to hide behind the veil of privilege" under the Freedom of Information Act.
"This is disgraceful treatment of taxpayers who were seeking to provide education and training for their sons and daughters without any public subsidy unlike most third-level courses," Ms Kealy said.
The PTC liquidation has been referred to the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE).
However, when asked by the Irish Independent, the office said it could not reveal whether they were investigating the situation.