Soar Aviation pilot training remains suspended pending audit
Soar Aviation chief executive Neel Khokhani.
An hour ago November 6, 2019
Australia’s largest pilot training school, Soar Aviation, has cancelled flying for a fifth straight day following an audit of training partner Box Hill Institute.
Students first learned of the cancellations late Friday via emails from Box Hill and Soar, which have been the subject of investigations by the Australian Skills Quality Authority and the Victorian Department of Education.
Box Hill’s correspondence said the TAFE college maintained safety as its highest priority, and it had “requested Soar to suspend flying for BHI students for the next few days”.
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That was followed by an email from Soar Aviation CEO Neel Khokhani informing students “Box Hill Institute had requested documentation in relation to our fleet” and they would be pausing flight operations until that was provided.
He added that students would not be charged for the cancelled flights.
A further update was received by students from Mr Khokhani Monday night, revealing Soar was “continuing to work with Box Hill to clarify an aspect of our flight training”, then last night, an instructor sent a message about further cancellations on Wednesday.
“At this point flights won’t be going ahead for reasons you already know,” wrote the instructor.
“On the positive side, we at Soar have been working to get flights back up and running and at this point things are looking positive, with flying most likely starting again this week.”
Box Hill theory classes were proceeding as usual, the message said.
Students have lodged multiple complaints to Box Hill and the Department of Education about their training at Soar, claiming it was not what they were promised.
One student said she was told she would be trained in a Cessna 172 for her commercial pilot’s licence (CPL), and instead she was flying a Foxbat and forced to take out membership of Recreational Aviation Australia (RAAus).
Concerns have also been raised about the high number of enrolments in comparison to flight instructors and aircraft, and the low rate of completions.
Data from the Department of Employment show there were 289 enrolments in the BHI CPL diploma in the first six months of this year, and a 47.6 per cent unit of study completion rate.
More than $7m in VET student loans had been granted for the training.
Mr Khokhani and Box Hill Institute are yet to respond to questions from The Australian about the ongoing flight cancellations.