As reported three days ago, a p2f-dedicated meeting occured today dec.9th at 14h00 (Brussels local time) on DG Tran premises to present and engage in Q&A which, for the record, unfolded in accordance with the following canvas :
The dice are cast.
- As expected, DGAC's lax initial ATO renewal decision officially backfired this Dec. 4th with SAT bankruptcy. 7 employees, 49 students and several hundred thousand euros in debt left in the wild. No DGAC officials to be held accountable.
- French AGEPAC released pilot employment statistics update this Dec. 5th; slight improvements overall notably :
- 53% working as airline pilots (45% on JAR25).
- 2 to 3 years necessary for 50% of a class to find an employment.
- 30% can't maintain IR/ME ratings with their jobs, 6% have an activity not related to the aeronautics.
- Key meeting to be held wednesday 9th between the ECA and EC DG Tran in Brussels on potential backing of anti p2f proposal.
The list could go on, :
- Dutch Stella Aviation in a series of bankruptcies ending in april 2014;
- in the UK amidst CAA warnings, Cabair in february 2012, formerly bankrupt as Cabair College of Air Training
- in France, the EPAG (Ecole de Pilotage Amaury de La-Grange) in april 2013,
- the ESMA (École supérieure des métiers de l’aéronautique) -or rather ESMA-HNA- twice bankrupt if not for Chinese investors, De Heerd Investments Limited (in 2006) then Hainan Group (in august 2013, also 48% Aigle Azur shareholder);
- and in a lesser extent the SEFA (Service de la formation aéronautique) that merged into the ENAC (French Civil Aviation University) in january 2011 which currently operates "at industrial minimum".
This 6th of november, Sud Aviation Training (SAT) confirmed the trend in France, entering a one month receivership period at the end of which either a settlement or bankruptcy will seal the fate of the 49 students pilot group... and their estimated joint €500k.
Accountability - the 500,000€ question
With the student group willing to recoup their stakes (should SAT go out of business), the question arose: who is liable to refund its members?
Before answering "the school", let's consider the audit report that sanctioned SAT's first fiscal year : fullscreen
While some ORA (Organisation Requirements applicable) violations appear mild at first glance (like ORA ATO 120 and flight time not being logged in hundredth of hour), all of them fell under level 2 findings, reportedly:
"[...] established by the DGAC when any non-compliance is detected by the applicable requirements of Regulation (EC) No 216 2008 and its implementing rules, procedures and manuals in the organization or in the terms of the license or certificate, which could lower safety or hazard flight safety"_ref
DGAC - Paved with good intentions
Following this audit, the French Aviation Authority decided to revoke ATO accreditation give SAT a 3 months probation period to change its ways, concluding :
"Numerous discrepancies were found during the audit, asserting a lack of both professional maturity and enforcement in established procedures. The multiplicity of aforementioned discrepancies would be such as to put ATO certification into question. However [...] new Head of Training [...] firm will to improve [!]".
Changes must have been conclusive since SAT still operated to this day EXCEPT ORA.GEN.210 (a), financial viability, that proved non-existent.
Sources close to another ongoing legal dispute involving SAT confirmed:
"[...] SAT had a negative balance sheet of 140,000€ by the end of its first year [...]"
In other words, the DGAC tolerated deviations to rescue a business when ultimately said business was bound to leave its "clients" on the hook in what probably ended up as a ponzi scheme (a money sink, new entrants' money covering other participant's liabilities).
What scenario will unfold? Will DGAC bureaucrats man up should SAT bankruptcy occur? Will the students be offered a solution/recover their investment provided it hasn't vaporized? We're not holding our breath.
edit Dec 6th: and sure enough...
- June 9: previously covered French National Assembly question met answering over state sponsored elite ENAC pilot training's relevance. School arguing EPL program already at industrial minimum, with further tightening to trigger "long term damaging loss of [both] expertise [and] national credibility at European level". (Assemblée Nationale)
With now more than a year under our belt on p2f (5 months after the official campaign kicked in), we gathered enough information to expose the enablers.
Since most media are quick to report the trees for the forest like the Germanwings 4U9525 crash (outing copilot Andreas Lubitz as an outright psychopath without questioning our industry)*, today is our turn to focus on the "trees" to sort the bad apples out, starting with:
Founded in September 1995 with CEO Jean-Marc René Bollinger, former Continental Airlines pilot (picture above), and headquartered Miami FL --like Stephane Hoinville's EagleJet (and former spearhead Gulfstream International)-- , this company offers services such as Cockpit and Cabin Crew training for which, as of 2015, the pilot training offer could read as follows:
fullscreen english translation
Ludicrous commercial deception aside, one learns WAS has allegedly delivered "over 2000 pilots to airlines worldwide including Air Gabon, Air Madagascar, Asiana Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Hainan Airlines, Hong Kong Airlines, Royal Air Maroc, TAAG (and many more)" with a training for which:
"there is nowadays in France a lot of polemic going on about [...]"
The catch? After a "line training [...] at the candidate's expense" (pay-to-fly - p2f), you are supposedly entitled to an employment "official letter" to secure an employment? interview (example given of Hong Kong Airlines)!
The man behind this program...
In light of such business innovation, is it fair to assume our entrepeneur's character would reflect on him? Fast backward July 8th 2006.
That Saturday afternoon, an Air France flight 95 was supposed to leave from Miami International Airport to France, but police were summoned to the airport after they received a call from a man who said his wife, a Lebanese citizen, was a threat to the safety of the flight.
A few minutes before it was scheduled to take off, that man (with their 17-month-old daughter) went to the Air France ticket counter and said that his wife, who was onboard, planned to blow up the plane, saying at first that she was angry about the arrest of a Lebanese citizen in a terrorist plot, and that she had said that "les américains allaient voir ce qu'ils allaient voir".
All 400 passengers onboard were evacuated. Investigators found the woman, who was traveling to Lebanon, and questioned both her and her husband.
FBI agents said that during the interview, they found out the woman never made any type of threat and instead arrested her husband, Jean-Marc Bollinger.
It was determined that the woman wanted a divorce (she showed bruises that she claimed were from her husband hitting and pushing her) alleging he abused her and wanted to go to Lebanon with the couple's daughter, but that Mr Bollinger refused, making up the story about the threat to try to keep his wife from leaving on the flight, as he later confessed.
French Bollinger was arrested and charged with criminal mischief and filing a false police report, avoiding several years in jail.
Incidentally, the mishap is said to have cost Air France $15,000 in operating costs while the plane was delayed and searched (no word as to whether his wife took another flight).
||NOLLE PROS-COMP PTI
||NOLLE PROS-COMP PTI
- Mugshots.com ID: 66145180
- Name: BOLLINGER, JEAN-MARC RENE
- DOB: 9/14/1959
- Court Case No: F-06-022316
- State Case No: 13-2006-CF-022316-0001-XX
- Date Filed: 7/10/2006
- Date Closed: 10/17/2007
- Warrant Type: N/A
- Assessment Amount: $0.00
- Balance Due: $0.00
- Stay Due Date: N/A
- Hearing Date: N/A
- Hearing Type: N/A
- Court Room: REGJB - JUSTICE BUILDING, ROOM No.: 2-3
- Court Address: 1351 N.W. 12 ST
- Previous Case: N/A
- Next Case: N/A
- Judge: COLODNY, YVONNE
- Defense Attorney: MAULTASCH, RANDY
- Bfile Section: F021
- File Location: SCANNED
- Box Number: N/A
- Probation Start Date: N/A
- Probation End Date: N/A
- Probation Length: N/A
- Probation Type: N/A
- Defendant in Jail: N
- Defendant Release To: HARVELL/ILM
- Bond Status: DISCHARGED
- Bond Type: RELEASED OWN RECOGNIZANCE
- Bond Issue Date: 8/24/2006
- Bond Amount: N/A
- Names / Aliases: N/A
...is your pilot "provider"?
There you have it. While the picture above is probably the closest thing pilots will ever witness to a p2f felon behind bars for abject labour law discrepancies profiteering, that such a "colorful" profile could -and still does?- provide pilots to airlines (simultaneously preying on his kin) is beyond belief.
From there, with an added value of "zero", the need for intermediaries and brokers is anyone's guess (particularly after such blatant displays of integrity and candor). Sure, pilots are screened against criminal records, though perhaps it is time we come to realise criminals/psychopaths are not necessarily where we're led to believe.
* Except for these articles in The Atlantic, The Conversation, Boulevard Voltaire and excellent Global Research, notably.
Released yesterday Sept.14th, after a first mention in issue n°595 last year (and a follow-up shortly afterwards in issue n°596), we wish to thank the SNPL that dedicated 5 pages of issue n°606 of "La Ligne" to pay-to-fly (with our participation), result below.
Van: "Renata Lasota" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Onderwerp: Enter Air training offer - survey
Datum: augustus 2015
We are pleased to inform that we are planning to launch new training program soon. Therefore, we would like to carry out a survey on the basis of which we will prepare an offer which would meet expectations of the candidates interested.
If you are interested in performing training with us, please fill the questionnaire attached and send it back together with your up-to-date CV with a photo, a copy of your license and a copy of your passport to the address: email@example.com till: 31.08.2015
On the basis of the questionnaires received, we will prepare an offer which will be suitable for the highest number of candidates. The program will be ready in autumn, and the start date and place of the training has been initially planned for October, Warsaw, Poland.
Please bear in mind that filling in the application does not oblige you to undertake the training. The survey concerns preparing a training program and it is not a job offer. [CockpitSeeker: emphasis added]
We are looking forward to your response!
On behalf of Enter Air Training Department,
Flight Crew Training & ATO Specialist
Enter Air Ltd.
Okęcie Business Park
ul. 17 Stycznia 45B, 02-146 Warsaw, Poland
THE BEST CHARTER AIRLINE IN POLAND 2014
Enter Air Sp. z o.o. Al. Krakowska 106; 02-256 Warszawa, zarejestrowana przez Sąd Rejonowy,
XIII Wydział Gospodarczy dla M. St. Warszawy pod numerem KRS 0000339408,
kapitał zakładowy 3.120.000 PLN, NIP: 701-020-69-59, REGON: 142051272
UWAGA! Niniejsza korespondencja ma charakter ściśle poufny i przeznaczona jest wyłącznie do wiadomości adresata. Jakiekolwiek jej rozpowszechnianie, czytanie, kopiowanie lub korzystanie przez osobe inna niż adresat, bez jego wyraźnej zgody jest wzbronione i jako naruszenie tajemnicy korespondencji może stanowić podstawę do pociągnięcia do odpowiedzialności.
ATTENTION! This information contains strictly confidential or privileged information. It is intended only for the addressee. Any distribution, reading, copying, or use of this communication by anyone other than the addressee without his explicit consent is prohibited and may give rise to liability.
At a time we thought pilots barely have a choice (in the aviation industry), it turns out EnterAir proved us wrong!
Would you rather pay to work with or without a Type Rating with them? Hmmm...
With the MSM (mainstream media) catching up to industry fact that the pilot-shortage narrative might not be that simple after all, this July 21th both CNN and CNBS (in a lesser extent - UAE media totally disqualify) ended up suggesting "finding a first job can be tough".
Today we will cover the bank "angle" (pun intended) and prove flight schools contractually oblige newly trained pilots to engage in p2f to fake employment-record-improvements to secure more loans for more students for more profit.
ABN AMRO - weak safeguards amidst "confusion"
Being "the only Dutch bank to offer loans to trainee pilots" in an economy where "pilots [...] have been unable to earn enough to pay back the debts because of the economic downturn and the arrival of budget airlines [...] which pay far less than flag carriers", it was only a matter of time before issues arise.
Sure enough since August 2011, a group of 40 pilots triggered court cases (still ongoing) for failure in the bank's duty to oversee and implement adequate loan provisions (after having sought fair settlement on debt restructuring). ABN AMRO reportedly assumed:
"the market is improving and a shortage of pilots is on the cards"_DutchNews.nl
...soundbite that doesn't add up with Mr F.C. Schoenmakers' confidential letter to numerous Dutch flight schools (Stella, CAE and EPST) :
"[...] we shall further tighten the criteria [...] to the granting of credit for students of the training institutes. The reason for this is the rising number of unemployed prospective commercial pilots".
A few months later in December 2013, Mr Schoenmakers became "immediately available" on the job market...
CAE OAA & EPST - in for a penny, in for a pound
The only Dutch loan provider tightening loan criteria with the addition of new measures (as of January 1st 2013) among which:
"As soon as the number of students on the waiting list of your training institute is higher than 10 [...] A new student will only be eligible for a loan when two students have been placed".
it became paramount for flight schools to "place" their pilots so as to not diminish their cash flow student number. Where? CAE OAA (CAE Oxford Aviation Academy), sister company of CAE --already involved in p2f with Ryanair-- and EPST (European Pilot Selection and Training) have one clear solution:
... the kind of "job offer" where:
- a fee of £100 is chargeable for Stage 2 of the assessment process (non-refundable).
- A fee of £150 is chargeable for Stage 3 (also non-refundable).
- The pilot must self-fund Type, Base and Line Training including VAT at a cost of £38,400.
- Living expenses during this time will meet neither salary nor compensation.
- The pilot must set his own limited company and get hired through the intermediary agency CAE Parc Aviation (another CAE sister company), because let's face it, you didn't think the airline would later hire you directly, did you?
No, not Ryanair, just EasyJet's take on modern day slavery "pay-to-fly" of course, and to top it all, you can't escape the rape program since according to the foreword translation*:
"You are contractually obliged to participate in placement"
Our readers can now simultaneously guess how those EPST students were "placed" and what that ABN AMRO's "improving market" and "shortage of victims pilots" really is.
Verdict - banks raise, schools bluff, pilots fold
Conveniently dropping the excuse that Type Rating and Line Training are just training (what we have been saying for years) to count those "opportunities" as "placement", flight schools found the perfect mean to defraud banks and bypass any of their criteria based on job finding. Banks unable (unwilling?) to tell the difference become (willful?) accomplice by perpetuating schools' scam, loading pilots with more debt for short term profit, with no incentive to dig deeper since real safeguards would impede their conducting business too.
In this poker game of lies and deception, pilots have the worst possible hand: they no longer decide to pay-to-work or not, they are now forced to, by contract.
*All Dutch translations from a sworn certified translator for the English and Dutch language at the district court of Amsterdam.
Earlier in february, pilots were told paying to work is fine (by Baltic Aviation Academy); today July 14th, paying to work becomes "necessary" according to AviationCV.
Given it is just 4 days after the EC (European Commission) released its answers to MEP Steinruck's 5th of May questions (that were among the basis for the EP hearing two days afterwards) which showcased -- SPOILER ALERT -- no progress on the p2f issue, the timing proved perfect for AviationCV to give pilots the "Aviation Tips" we are going to need should our last resort to stop p2f fail.
For your viewing pleasure : fullscreen
Source: AviationCV - "Line training for pilot: everything you need to know"
It seems that:
"Despite the opinion that line training destroys the airline pilot industry (“Pay to fly”), line training is in itself necessary. More or less [?], it’s the first step to be a pilot".
...whereas Line "training" as per COMMISSION REGULATION (EU) No 965/2012 of October 5th 2012 is only part of the requirements for pilots already professional to be in "command" of an aeroplane or helicopter (ORO.FC.205 (a)(4)) and consists of "10 flight sectors, in the case of aeroplanes", sectors that are performed on duty, carrying passengers (exploiting the airline's network or "sectors")!
"For sure, there was a time when airline pilot training was sponsored by the airline hiring a pilot. However, the situation has changed and only few airlines still apply this policy".
Of course! If airlines (or intermediaries like AviationCV for that matter) have pilots pay to work and neither their elected politicians, the EASA, nor the EC care, what possibly is going to be the trend to compete with that?
"So the main information about line training programs is relevant and needful".
...confessing pilots have barely no other choice, concluding that:
"In order to start your pilot’s career, you need to invest".
And here we thought pilots already pay €100k for their professional licence. Fantastic.
Following the awareness successfully triggered at EC level (without the petition even breaking the 100k mark yet), European pilots were told DG MOVE (Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport) would "meet experts on this specific matter [p2f]", which they did, on July 18th (2 days after the 10 years of the ECA). Below is part of the presentation that unfolded:
[presentation also being PART II and last of USA: P2F origins (PART I)]
Along with "its own study on employment and working conditions in air transport and airports" conducted "in collaboration with its consultant ***** ****** ******" (and supported by DG EMPL); pilots' best and only shot to eradicate pay-to-fly might reside in the "findings [...] available this summer".
Meanwhile, as per our list of August last year, the WG (Working Group) on "New Business Models" did mention p2f in its study, which resulted in an EASA RAG (Rulemaking Advisory Group) report in April (not public), where:
"Today, the management system (SMS) does not systematically capture the correlation between different employment types (e.g. temporary employment models, employment via employment agencies, pay-to-fly employment schemes) within one organisation (AOC holder) and levels of occurrence reporting. Different employment models within one organisation might have a potentially negative impact on the operator’s safety culture and induce a potential risk of an unstable workforce.
Therefore, the WG believes that in the short-term more evidence should be gathered by recommending that the operator’s management system should capture [...] data by type of contract on occurrence reporting, fatigue reporting, sickness reporting, reports on turnover, FDM events".
Which is an encouraging start but cannot corroborate the claims of national policitians that "the EASA has performed a detailed analysis of the potential safety consequences of different contractual relationships [...] [which] does not show that this [p2f & freelance pilots] is now a proven urgent safety problem", which is untrue, simply because:
"The WG was NOT able to discuss all the developments of business models. Due to the short time frame available of only three months and the vast scope of the topic, the WG only looked at some commonalities [...]".
How easy it is to avoid accountability hiding behind a report that is not made public? The answer: