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kaz3g

Soar Aviation and Box Hill Institute lose accreditation

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2 hours ago, Toppee said:

I'm one of the students "left in the lurch". I had no issues with Soar or the processes they were following. Soar were a whole lot safer than the school I came from prior who would consistently allow flights to go out over MTOW. However I do take exception to their statement saying "they are doing everything possible to assist the students impacted". Neither Box Hill nor Soar have made any formal statement to any student other than what was written in the BHI letter. They both seem to be passing the buck to the other and communication has been non existent. I have an $18K debt now that needs to be refunded given my course was cancelled in the middle of the semester but who knows what will happen with that debt (no one is talking at this stage).

Hi Toppee

 

i have received some details of issues affecting another student...particularly the amount pre-paid for tuition not received...but also understand there is a VCAT matter in process.

 

would appreciate any link you have to that including parties, case number and stage it’s at, please.

 

I’m just offering this as a personal opinion but you might be well-served to contact Gordon Legal re a class action they are running, especially if you have concerns about services already delivered. Also might consider making your own application to VCAT to recover money paid for services not yet delivered. Suggest you also write to the ASQA so your complaint is on record as their are time constraints involved.

 

kaz

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https://australianaviation.com.au/2018/07/soar-aviation-sells-50-stake-to-private-equity-firm/

Have a look at the embedded video. Can anyone identify the certificate that is handed to the student?

 

The Glassdoor reviews are from employees. The polar opposites of opinion, and information from other sources, makes the positive endorsements questionable.

 

Imagine if the sort of money that has gone though SOAR had been channeled through each State's technical and further education system! The skies would be black with training aircraft of all types, and we'd have LAMEs touting for business all over the country.

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21 minutes ago, kaz3g said:

Hi Toppee

 

i have received some details of issues affecting another student...particularly the amount pre-paid for tuition not received...but also understand there is a VCAT matter in process.

would appreciate any link you have to that including parties, case number and stage it’s at, please.

 Also might consider making your own application to VCAT to recover money paid for services not yet delivered. Suggest you also write to the ASQA so your complaint is on record as their are time constraints involved.

 

kaz

Thanks for the suggestions.

I don't have any links to parties or cases so not quite sure what you are referring to there. 

I also understand that ASQA won't do anything with complaints and there advice is to go through the complaints process of the institution (in this case Box Hill).

 

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https://amp.theaustralian.com.au/business/aviation/soar-aviation-sells-aircraft-as-it-faces-loss-of-registration/

 

Neel Khokani has asked for an internal review of the ASQA decision.

 

One does not sell seven planes (plant and equipment) while also seeking to stay in business. Smells ... desperate? fishy?

Edited by mnewbery

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On 13/01/2020 at 2:32 PM, Toppee said:

Thanks for the suggestions.

I don't have any links to parties or cases so not quite sure what you are referring to there. 

I also understand that ASQA won't do anything with complaints and there advice is to go through the complaints process of the institution (in this case Box Hill).

 

Rule is cover all bases. Class action might need to think about an injunction restraining sale of aircraft. Expensive business for an individual.

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@kaz3g, dafrned good point - they want to get a lien on those a/c ASAP...

 

Re selling them and being desparate (from our man with a suspended sentence 😁) - well, my guess is their income stream is expected to rapidly dry up and that $66M valuation will probably plummet to the ground faster than his studes have..

 

I was going to say, mind you they are probably high time and have been beaten aruond a bit, but from the looks of it, only a few studes got up (in the air, fellas) and when they did, the outcome was less than impressive (for the purposes of liability, that was a joke - no libel intended).

 

In that colour, I may buy them and satrt a complany - Yellow Cabs...

 

 

Edited by Jerry_Atrick

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Seem to be around 1700 hours. He is probably selling the high hour ones first if he hopes to continue. But expect another 15-20 to come on the market, so better deals may follow!

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Since when has it been common practice for a business to purchase expensive equipment? I thought that the practice now was to lease the equipment through a finance company, as you do for cars. If that's so, are the titles to the aircraft free of a lien held by a finance company?

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I see selling off as all part of the plan. Knowing it will all come unstuck eventually, "Plan C" is GO!

People need to think more of "how" you would plan out a VET fee scam rather than a normal business.

Did someone else use the term "pump and dump"?

Is the latter now in effect?

 

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This evolving story makes for fascinating reading

 

Mr Neel's flight school and BHI  are being investigated by AQSA, and have had  RTO status revoked (which qualifies them for  receipt of VET student loans).

 

Perhaps there are some safety issues and aviation standards breaches that impact on its operation as a flight school, but is  does it strike anybody else that Neel seems only interested  in operating a school that receives VET loans? 

 

An alternative business model would be just to run a regular flight school like others where student pilots pay as they go from their own pockets.  Perhaps SORE could  offer PPL  and RAA certificate courses to mature pilots? But as soon as the VET  government dollars seem to be drying up, the proprietor is flogging off his fleet and shutting up shop.  Is it cheeky to suggest be there's not enough money in 'honest' flight instruction?

 

Alan

 

 

 

Edited by NT5224

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The business premise is based on publicizing the fact that there is a Worldwide shortage of pilots with commercial qualifications. Therefore, there is a supply and demand situation that is out of balance. If there is a strong demand, then a career as a commercial pilot seems a reasonable consideration for a young person. However, the VET fee assistance scheme is the only way a young person could finance an course that costs more than $50,000 to complete, without trying to secure a personal loan - an impossibility.

 

The only way to get VET assistance is to go to an approved training organisation - RTO. Getting such an approval is difficult and expensive for existing flying schools which would be quite capable of efficiently delivering the practical side of the pilot's licence course, but would face a big problem in providing the Theory side to the required standard.

 

Obviously our entrepreneurial friend has studied the system and worked out how he could line up an RTO to provide the theory side under its registration, and he would provide the practical side. I'm reckon most of those who signed up with our friend were able to complete the Theory side successfully through Box Hill TAFE. It seems to be the way he handled his side of the bargain that raised questions of ethics.

 

This case has thrown light on obvious mismanagement by those responsible for issuing the finance. 

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1 hour ago, NT5224 said:

This evolving story makes for fascinating reading

 

Mr Neel's flight school and BHI  are being investigated by AQSA, and have had  RTO status revoked (which qualifies them for  receipt of VET student loans).

 

Perhaps there are some safety issues and aviation standards breaches that impact on its operation as a flight school, but is  does it strike anybody else that Neel seems only interested  in operating a school that receives VET loans? 

 

An alternative business model would be just to run a regular flight school like others where student pilots pay as they go from their own pockets.  Perhaps SORE could  offer PPL  and RAA certificate courses to mature pilots? But as soon as the VET  government dollars seem to be drying up, the proprietor is flogging off his fleet and shutting up shop.  Is it cheeky to suggest be there's not enough money in 'honest' flight instruction?

 

Alan

 

 

 

No, but doesn’t mean. VET structure isn’t possible also. It doesn’t have to make you the richest person in the universe.

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If it is in effect a necessary subsidy, as it appears, how do others get by.? We all know that it's a hard way to make a quid for any flying school and any Instructor and has been that way forever. Unless you have other support ie  Rich parents  OR a Bl**dy good job, YOU will be  quite a bit in debt. as a student '

    It's useless making $ comparisons direct but when I did it it cost more (I thought) and worked out at about half an (ordinary) house in my day to get CPL plus a croppy or instructor rating . Houses were about 2.5 times an average yearly salary not  8 to 10 as they are today. . I could never fly more than 2 hours a week and I ran on the smell of an oily rag. Come to think of it I still am. Bugga. Nev

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How times have changed. I recorded in my log book the total cost of all my flying up to 1975 was $2,560.60 for a total of 185.5 hours including 50% of all my dual training up to RPL. So an average of about $14 an hour. The other half of my training up to RPL was paid by a scholarship. I bought a house in 1974 for $13,500. New houses at that time cost about $15,000 to build. So you could buy a house for about 1000 hours of flying including training.

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 Yes that's about it. A lot depends on what training you continue with. If you get pressurisation, Turbine, ME and so on you are spending REAL money.If you go to CPL plus anything there's more dual.  than just getting a PPL  or RPL. Nev

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If you want to see time comparisons that may be a little more free of time here are mine:

 

Early 1990's - AUF training in LSA55 Jabirus in Sydney (the Oaks)

AWOTE (average Weekly Ordinary Time Earnings) in Australia would have covered 6.7hours of flight training

 

Current day - RAAus training in an Evektor Sportstar (Armidale NSW)

AWOTE (average Weekly Ordinary Time Earnings) in Australia will have covered 6.8hours of flight training

 

So on these the average cover of flight training by average earnings has not moved much over the last 27 years

 

If I look at the advertised prices of Soar Aviation the RAAus coverage today they are $50/hr more than similar training in Armidale - they are in Sydney at a major airport but coverage falls to 5.6 so they are quite a bit more expensive.

 

 

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18 hours ago, NT5224 said:

This evolving story makes for fascinating reading

 

 But as soon as the VET  government dollars seem to be drying up, the proprietor is flogging off his fleet and shutting up shop.  Is it cheeky to suggest be there's not enough money in 'honest' flight instruction?

 

Alan

 

 

 

 

Using the VET scheme, I would think there would be a good income (not going to make $66M; maybe just $33M) if one acted with integrity and didn't accept any old bozo who walked through the door...

 

Can you imagine if you were offering instruction through the VET scheme.. Can charge $50/hr more than regular schools - have a steady stream of students while the so-called pilot shortage is around.. Good pass rate - more people want to go through you.. You then hit critical mass where you can be very selective an your pass rate rockets up to 99%... They are on loans, you are getting a darned good rate and you are at capacity (inc spare planes for when one goes U/S). We have an ex stude who has paid.. ahem.. $80K for a sub ICAO ticket..

 

I think tis time to look at the Upper Cumbucta West TAFE college to deliver the theory, grab a couple of well proven (aka used) PA28s/C172s, establish an operation at Numurkah airstrip (it will have a certificate to say it's licenced) charge $250/hr  for the privilege and sip pina coladas on the way to the bank (leaving enough to bribe the plod with the breathalizer).

 

Seriously, there is a good living to be had.. if one doesn't become too greedy... I may have to see if I can entice my old instructor/examoner out of retirement...

 

 

 

 

Edited by Jerry_Atrick

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The shame is there are already dual RAAus/GA schools on good airfields dotted around Australia in towns with TAFE colleges.

 

If the diploma training materials are well designed they can be delivered by pretty much anyone - getting your certIV in training is not particularly challenging and it’s relatively easy for an academic oversight of delivery to be remote. 
 

it’s a win win IF the instructors at the flying school also do academic delivery - small towns benefit.  Small flying schools benefit.  Students benefit. 
 

but that does not appear to be how Soar have set themselves up.

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I don't think you need to go to a TAFE to do the theory part of the diploma. If the diploma training materials are well designed they can be delivered by pretty much anyone  who has a Cert IV in Training. All the RTO has to do is obtain approval to include the theory material in its course.

 

There has been some tightening of approval requirements for new RTO's https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MgqKPkNAtwY

 

 

It is no easy task to get through the approval process, and a small company would have to invest a lot of time and money in simply preparing an application. Most established small schools would not have the money behind them to spare. Even after being granted RTO approval, getting students and providing for their living needs would be a difficult task.

 

Once again, Australia suffers because of its inability to avail itself of Economies of Scale.

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Well aware of the challenges and costs of RTO registration - which is why I framed it as linked into the existing RTO of TAFE etc.  Its much easier to get a flying instructor certIV to deliver the training under the TAFE/RTO which lowers the barrier to entry for the TAFE as they do not need to take on staff to deliver training but instead focus on central oversight of the courses and delivery.  

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Too true, but trying to get a TAFE to take on another Diploma course might prove difficult. TAFEs are dropping a lot of courses due to small class numbers. Try to find a TAFE that will deliver a course that is not apprenticeship-related. 

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Interesting reading about the SOAR "yellow Budgies" brigade as I called them when they were training out of YBDG. (Not anymore).

It was terrific to see a buzzier airport and many new faces and would be pilots around. Bendigo wants to grow its airport and had tendered (unsuccessfully) for the initial and second QANTAS training school bases. We now have a  Qantas service here everyday.

 

My superficial understanding of the matter from published articles says Government backed, education schemes have been and still are loose, open to interpretation by operators and little scrutiny by Govt to prevent abuse of students. I have no hard facts to back my comments, but:

General education "diplomas" available to OS and local students such as in hairdressing, basic accounting,  for example can obtained easily by a large quantity of people but again how good is the training and are there any jobs once qualified?. Is it similar for pilot training?

 

I think the company just grew too fast, too soon in the last 18 months which possibly has caused the use of less experienced instructors from a well of dwindling supply. BUT instructors should not be able to become instructors if they are not suitably capable. I would like to assume they all are/were as I am sure CASA would be as well..

 

The vast majority of pilot trainees from my observations at SOAR seemed to be really nice friendly young overseas students who I assume expect to go back home with a "Western" pilot qualification of some sort and make some money in local or regional airlines. BUT the gap in hours required and training organisations available overseas I imagine would make that very difficult to obtain the hours and experience for acceptance into a small say tourist or freight operation let alone a commercial airline.

There are so many Asian airlines with their own training airports and organisations here already.

The fast growing SOAR I believe was/is struggling to obtain the number of instructors required. As soon as they got a few hundred hours or more up they themselves instructors move on to go for that commercial job.

Over a period of months comparing the local flight schools  incidents with SOAR at YBDG shows that something like a 7 to 1 ratio or higher by SOAR. Hard landings, very hard landings,  broken undercarriages, damaged runway lights, and a write off. Why would that be so?

Could it be choice of aircraft, Tecnams vs overwhelmingly Foxbats & Bristells ? I am sure the manufacturers would be arguing no but could it be a factor , maybe.

SOAR have some Tecnams in Sydney maybe interesting to compare incidents of those to Foxbat? Regardless the student should be instructed to a level as to fly and land safely by the instructors. It would be interesting to know the average hours of the instructors employed.

Possibly were SOAR trying to push students thru?

Were instructors not up to scratch?/high experience levels?

It was a habit to watch the yellow budgies doing circuits as the landings were always interesting to say the least.

It got to a stage where I felt compelled to say to an SOAR instructor they needed to address the situation as maybe a worse outcome such as serious injury may be imminent. Understandably this did not go down well. Many of the hard landings I witnessed had instructors on board!

 

Perhaps the Government and training operators including the large TAFE`s and RMIT`s just want the ready available money from overseas students to grow our own wallets without conscionable consideration of the outcomes?

With greater scrutiny fm authorities any organisation should be able to meet the standards.

 

We all want safe skies for all and we do not want or need CASA to over-regulate as this affects the innocent training organisations here.

 

Please lets have safety first, fun second and money third.

 

I guess I am just stating the obvious.

 

 

 

 

 

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You have gone to the trouble to examine it as you see it. All the  Aircraft you mention are not windy tolerant nor are they built for thousands of hours of training abuse as the GA plane s of the past were by any stretch of the imagination. Also Instructor skills and experience could easily be a factor, and I doubt many failing  the course would go down well with those paying up front money. I think there's a lot of "I've Paid , now where is my ticket?.  The blind cannot lead the blind.  This is more the system than the people involved who are probably very nice and just normal people like we were. Nev

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The use of European LSAs for training is something I'd look at closely. They are built lightly and won't take being smashed onto the tarmac too well. Students are very hard on aircraft. This is why the C150 & 152 which were built like the proverbial brick outhouse  were used for so many years. They took a lot of punishment before failing. If schools need a good solid trainer now the Jabiru 170 would be hard to beat. Super solid airframe and the new Gen 4 engines are superb. Yes they require specific maintenance and the engines don't like being treated like a car engine where as the Rotax is more tolerant in that area. But the price is right and support is excellent. Maintained well they go the distance.

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