Trainee pilots left up to £90,000 out of pocket after prestigious flying school goes bust

Credit: ITV News Meridian
Would-be pilots at the Flying Time Aviation (FTA) school based at Brighton City Airport received an email on Monday confirming the news. Credit: ITV News Meridian

A prestigious flying school which trains pilots for commercial airlines has gone bust, leaving students with massive debts and no qualifications.

Trainees at the Flying Time Aviation (FTA) school based at Brighton City Airport, who spent up to £90,000 each learning to fly, received an email on Monday confirming the news.Up to 160 people have been told their training at FTA is over.

Some students, who have already paid course fees, have done no flying or have not completed their classroom training.

FTA attracts would-be pilots from all over the world. Credit: ITV News Meridian

FTA boss, Sean Jacob, had a meeting inside an airport hangar with parents and families to explain what happened.

The 60-year-old told them he had been trying to raise the £1.5m to stay afloat for over a year, and was still trying up to the point he sent the email on Monday night.

Some parents told the meeting they had remortgaged their homes to pay for the flying course, whilst others said they had worked for 10 years to save the money.

As employees carried their personal belongings out of the building in boxes, one parent shouted: "You were burning our money. We are walking away with nothing."

Mr Jacob told them he had personally made an enormous loss.

"There is an estate agent at my house right now," he said.

"I could have done a runner but I wanted to be here to answer your questions."

Parents said they had been asked to pay extra charges and upfront fees within the last few weeks Credit: ITV News Meridian

Morgan Oliviero, 22, originally from Italy, said he had lost £4,000.

"My classmates have lost more than £40,000 each. We only got an email last night with no warning," he said.

"He [Sean Jacob] knew he needed £1.5m just to keep the school going. It is disgraceful that he has been able to do this.

"He has known for a year and a half and has been demanding payments from people last week, knowing it wasn’t enough.

"There are students in tears."

Mustafa Alibey, 67, from Kent said he's already paid £67,000 for his son who has not done any flying.

"I was asked for another £25,000 in cash two weeks ago. They have ruined the kids' lives and their parents. I have paid for my son to have a good career and he has lied to our faces."

Stephen Butler, 56, from Sussex said he paid £87,000 for his son to become a commercial pilot.

"It’s the money he inherited from his nan. It’s what he’s wanted to do since he was a little boy. The Civil Aviation Authority need to take some responsibility."

Administrators are still to be appointed to manage the collapse of the company.

ITV Meridian has contacted Sean Jacob directly about the situation at Flying Time Aviation and the concerns raised and is awaiting a response.

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