So close yet so far away, a student shares about life at the AAA flying school
With many of the aircraft grounded, limited flight instructors, and even the engineers gone, the miseries of the students continues with their future remaining uncertain.
It’s over nine months since the students started to publicly voice out their concerns regarding the flying school where the management has continuously denied all accusations against them.
Earlier this month the school's Head of Training Mr. Suranjan De Silva’s approval was revoked by the Maldives Civil Aviation Authority (MCAA) following the order from the President of the Maldives to take action against the school.
MCAA has further given a last warning to the school's accountable manager however it is unclear whether any of these actions would provide a solution for the students.
As it remains since the beginning, the school simply lacks sufficient instructors and aircraft to manage its students.
It is also to be noted that the school does not meet the mandatory minimum student to instructor ratio required as per the regulations set by MCAA.
All the school needs to do is provide students with sufficient training instructors and aircraft which they are still unable to do.
A student at AAA shares the struggles dealt at the school:
The loan amount I have received from the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) was MVR 815,000 under the student loan scheme for higher studies.
Due to a change in course structure, we were required to pay more however the MOHE did not allow us any additional funds even though their guidelines state that additional funds will be provided if there is a change in the course structure.
We are not required to pay in full at first, the course payment can be complete as ‘pay as you go’ scheme where you pay for the parts of the course as required along the course of the studies.
The student loans provided a stipend amount of MVR 4,500 which was insufficient as the accommodation and living costs rise to MVR 6,000.
We were required to pay the Bank of Maldives (BML) a cheque. BML then transfers the course fee to AAA in USD at the rate of 15.42 as the school required payments in USD.
Following the pandemic BML stopped issuing USD however AAA refused to accept payments in MVR even though it’s against MMA monetary policy.
AAA management even blamed this issue on the students reasoning their public calls of concern as a direct reason why BML no longer provides USD payment.
In Writing, AAA promised 18 month period for course completion. However, things were very different. The timeline for every part of the course changed.
Multiple delays were faced for both ground classes and flying lessons. Although flying lessons were delayed primarily due to lack of aircraft availability and lack of flight instructors, the AAA went out to point fingers at the students or point out other excuses like blaming it on the weather.
I was a student who was always present and I have completed all theoretical exams within 7 months and only flying lessons remained.
Multiple days of flying lessons were delayed throughout due to the unavailability of aircraft however the majority of days where I have not received flying lessons were labeled as days with bad weather even though other students were receiving flying lessons on the same day.
Just the night stage consisting of 5 hours of night flying lessons took over 3 months to be completed.
I was unable to start CPL PREP due to the Cessna C172RG being damaged and the unavailability of another aircraft suitable for Instrument Training. The AAA eventually then started to blame everything on the pandemic.
Due to the delays, the loan amount I received ran out. My whole family then had to come forward to assist with my accommodation costs.
On top of added costs for accommodation, I was required to pay additional money as the course structure changed and I was forced to take even more loans from my extended family members.
I only have 7 hours of lessons remaining to complete my course however I have no idea when that would be. I am very close to finishing the course yet I’m far away from completion.
Today, we are all clueless as to what is next because we do not know how the course completion would be snd we have faced a massive financial burden.