On Tuesday I hosted a Westminster Hall debate on flying schools, after the shock news that after 17 years Shoreham based FTA would be closing its doors for good. This has been terrible news for students and their families, as it has left them deeply out of pocket. Sadly, it is highly unlikely that there will be anything left for the students who paid up-front or who are partway through their course.
But there are also wider implications for the future capacity of the United Kingdom to train pilots sufficiently. No fewer than three major flying schools have gone bust in the last 10 months alone, with FTA in Shoreham, Tayside Aviation in Dundee and Bournemouth Commercial Flight Training all going under.
As such I called on the Government to:
- find an immediate solution for those prospective pilots left severely out of pocket
- introduce financial protections to ensure that that is highly unlikely to happen again, and
- ensure that there is oversight of financial sustainability and that the CAA, or an alternative body, can regulate the future of flight training schools.
Without that, we will have an awful lot of students who find themselves at a loose end, unable to fulfil their dreams of becoming the pilots that this country desperately needs.
You can read the whole debate, including the Minister's response, here.