Longford man at centre of student pilot dispute

The Waterford based aviation firm at the centre of a dispute over the axing of pilot training courses in the US last week is headed up by Longford man Mike Edgeworth.

The Waterford based aviation firm at the centre of a dispute over the axing of pilot training courses in the US last week is headed up by Longford man Mike Edgeworth.

As many as 34 students from Mr Edgeworth’s Waterford based Pilot Training Centre (PTC) of Ireland were left grounded after being informed by Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) executives its contract with PTC had been terminated.

Several of the centre’s students, some of whom forked out up to €85,000 each to attend the course, were last night (Tuesday) still no nearer to knowing whether they will be compensated on foot of the decision.

Trading difficulties were blamed for the shock annoucement as staff at the US aeronautical facility continue negotiations with those affected by the fallout.

A former resident of Moatefarrell on the outskirts of Edgeworthstown, Mr Edgeworth launched PTC shortly after the 9/11 attacks with almost instant results.

Within its first six years, PTC’s holding company amassed a turnover of €11m as scores of young hopefuls chased their dream of becoming fully fledged commercial airline pilots.

Its homepage claims graduates have gone on to enjoy noteworthy success with the likes of Ryanair, Aer Lingus, Emirates and CityJet.

Alongside its association with the Florida Insitute of Technology, PTC can also call upon a training centre in Melbourne, Florida and an office in Cambridge.

The college, through support from Enterprise Ireland only last year signed a €1.7m contract with leading Saudi Arabian airline, Nasair.

It’s not known what led up to last week’s sudden cancellation with PTC appearing to blame FIT for an apparant “non delivery” of services.

However, a spokesman for the US based college alleged to the Leader last night (Tuesday) that PTC owes the institute $1.4m, a bill which has now forced senior academics to commence legal action.

“The university has spent months attempting to resolve the ongoing payment issues with PTC, but with no success,” the spokesman said.

Attempts to contact Mr Edgeworth have so far proved unsuccessful and messages left have likewise gone unanswered.

In a statement posted to affected students last Tuesday, Mr Edgeworth insisted both sides in the dispute were keen to resolve the impasse with training at its Waterford premises “continuing as normal”.

Meanwhile, the university has extended its offer of housing to all affected students until August 1, while simultaneously working to help the students meet their visa requirements.