The failure of the Pilot Training College Waterford, a privately-owned and operated flight training school, to meet its contractual obligations to its students was disgraceful and I have every sympathy for the students and their families who suffered considerable losses following the collapse of the college.
Similar difficulties have been experienced in some other EU Member States with their flight training schools. It has been suggested that a bonding scheme should be implemented to protect students against such losses in future but some concerns have been expressed that this would increase costs in the sector and dissuade such organisations from remaining or establishing themselves in Ireland as such schemes are not mandatorily imposed elsewhere. The regulation of pilot training matters, including the approval of flight training organisations by national regulatory authorities, are governed by EU rules. To avoid any competitive distortions in the pilot training market in the EU, any consumer protection measures such as bonding of flight schools, should be dealt with at a European level rather than at a national level. At present, most schools require trainees to pay in quarterly or monthly instalments rather than 'up front' as was the case in Waterford.