Foreign Flight Students Face Uncertain Future
The slumping economy appears to have
claimed yet another high profile victim in the aviation industry.
The Commercial Airline Pilot Training (CAPT) Program has halted
operations at least temporarily, due to the current economic
The Daytona Beach News-Journal reports CAPT officials sent an
email to students last Friday, saying operations have been
suspended indefinitely while they review the state of the program's
"CAPT is operating at limited capacity the week of Jan 25th,"
reads an email from Chris Kokai, executive director of the flight
school based at Flagler County Airport (X49) in Bunnell, FL. "We
have suspended full operations in order to take a closer look at
our operating expenses. We are evaluating our operating expenses to
ensure we can remain profitable in these tough economic times.
"We hope to resume a full operating schedule in early February,"
Kokai's email adds.
The announcement is bad news for roughly 160 Chinese students,
who were going through ab-initio training at CAPT when the
announcement was made. Those students are in the United States on
educational visas... which, if the school is closed, would
Furthermore, some students told the paper their promised
one-year training program showed signs of faltering early on. "The
contract said we should finish in one year, and we have been here
nine months," said one of the students, who did not want to be
named. "At the speed we are training here, we would have to stay
here for two years."
Other students -- participating in CAPT through partnerships
with Nan Jing University, Civil Aviation Flight University, Shen
Zhen Airline and Shan Dong Airline -- complained they haven't
received their weekly stipends in over a month. That money had
already been paid to CAPT by the students' sponsors, they add.
The news was unsettling to officials in Flagler County, who last
year approved a tax incentive package for CAPT to expand its
operations at X49 and hire more employees. "We're monitoring it
closely," said Flagler County spokesman Carl Laundrie. "We'll be
talking to them."
Atlanta-based Flight Training Services International took
control of the non-degree CAPT Program from Embry-Riddle
Aeronautical University in August 2006,
as ANN reported, six months after ERAU
announced it intended to refocus its efforts away from pilot
training, and towards the school's business management studies
As part of its original agreement with the county, Embry-Riddle
agreed to pay Flagler County for its facilities at the Airpark
Phase I development near X49. FTSI took over that commitment when
it purchased CAPT... but if that company defaults on its
obligations, ERAU would be responsible for the payments.
"Embry-Riddle is still part of that arrangement," said Laundrie.
"They have a financial obligation to us for the facility."
Kokai asserts CAPT officials are "working day and night to
ensure the success of the organization and continuation of the
flight training schedules for all of our students."