Thursday, 5 July 2012

Pilot Training College comes to an end as we know it

What a weekend. I honestly don't know what to say. For those of you who are unaware, PTC yesterday went into what examiner-ship (a restructuring process). Their assets were handed over to an independent body and stripped by the IAA of their right to train in the interim.

Late last week we heard from the states that the Florida operation had been grounded by the the subcontractor, Florida Institute of Technology. This has happened once before when we were in the USA and again shortly after we returned.

Thinking it was a similar contractual problem we treated it as we had the previous two occasions. However, shortly afterwards a meeting was called for all students and staff in the USA. It was at that point that the Floridian based student body were told that the US operation had gone into administration and that they should try to contact those in Waterford for answers.

With today's technology the news soon spread over to this side of the pond and it was at that point we worried about our own futures with the company here in Ireland.

We were all told that operations were to continue as normal in Europe. Had it not been for the bad weather over the past couple of weeks I may not be sat here with this been a direct concern of mine.

However, yesterday morning we were told, while waiting to go flying, that training operations were being grounded until the afternoon. We were not told the reason immediately for this.

Later in the day the information was made available to us that the IAA had suspended the authorisation for the Pilot Training College to train any student in the United States or Ireland. With this news it meant we wouldn't be able to complete any ground school, simulator or flight training.

It wasn't until this morning when we were called to a student meeting where we were told that unfortunately due to the situation no student would be able to complete their training with the organisation and that each would have to speak to the IAA about their training and what they need to do to progress further with their training.

Over the past few days the airline along with certain companies and authorities have been able to make swift arrangements to reorganise the training for the four of us and keep alive the goal of making the type rating start date of the 30th July.

We're now here in Dublin waiting to begin our MCC/JOC stage of the training which was originally designed to be the final step before receiving our licenses. In this unique situation following the ten days here we will head to Cork to another flight school who will complete our Instrument Rating. I will be sure to explain what all this means in the coming days.

Going back to what has happened over the past few days it is a travesty that such a fantastic group of employees, both as instructors and other roles within the company at both bases have been put in such unfortunate circumstances.

It's no secret that PTC gets it's fair share of critics but throughout my training, as you will have seen on here, the quality of instruction has been absolutely superb. The people involved in creating the dream of being a commercial airline pilot are fantastic at what they do. 

I'm extremely proud to have worked with some of the most interesting, most intelligent and kindest people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. 

We are in an extremely fortunate position and I cannot even think about coming to terms with what those in the United States are currently going through. It's great testament to them all who are actively and positively making moves to deal with their own futures.

The news has obviously made national press here in Ireland and today in the Irish Independent printed a double page spread. Something that stood out for me:

"The trainee pilots get to sample a slice of the famed American college life. The bunch I met lived on campus, mixed with other students and enjoyed the kudos that came with walking around in a pilot's uniform.

"There were other perks too. When I was there we did a 'fly over' to Nassau in the Bahamas, where the students got their first taste if international flying as our fleet of about 10 planes crossed from the US.

"Private airports, swimming with pigs, and a visit to the stunning Atlantis resort were just some of the highlights of an unforgettable weekend that would have seemed even more spectacular to a gang of teenagers.

"My overwhelming memory of their Florida experience, though, isn't any of that. It's the print-outs of a cockpit interior that were pinned up all over the walls of one of the apartments I visited.

"This was Florida, there was a whole world outside the dorm-room door, but they were all there to work."