Callers trying to contact collapsed flight school Soar Aviation on Monday were presented with a voice message bluntly informing them that the business wouldn’t be taking or responding to any messages.
The reply comes after the controversial training institution entered administration, with unsecured creditors reportedly owed $850,000, leaving many of its current trainees in limbo.
Callers, many of whom are likely to be current students, trying to get through to Soar were given no advice on how to seek help, and were simply told, “Unfortunately, as of 29 December 2020, we are unable to take your call, take any messages or return any messages. We apologies for any inconvenience caused.”
On that date, the business entered administration with KPMG partners Brendan Richards and James Stewart appointed to help the business pay off its huge debt pile.
Richards later told The Australian, “When we were appointed there wasn’t sufficient cash in the business to continue operating it. We have taken the decision to close the business.
“We’ve retained some core staff to assist us in developing a plan for the future of the business.
“We are canvassing the market for potentially interested parties who may be keen to do a quick deal having regard to the fact it’s a really good turn-key operation.”
Founded in 2012 as Bendigo Aviation Services, the company was renamed Soar Aviation in 2013 and offered Diploma in Aviation courses and other flying courses in partnership with the Box Hill Institute.
It has campuses at Moorabbin Airport in Melbourne, Bendigo Airport in regional Victoria and Sydney’s Bankstown Airport.
Its fleet of 50 aircraft comprised Bristell LSA, Technam P2006T, Foxbat A22LS, Vixxen A32 and Aquila A210 aircraft, according to the company’s website, as well as a CKAS 7D0F simulator.
However, things turned sour in 2019 when Box Hill demanded the business supply documentation about its fleet and trainers.
Soar’s registered training organisation status was then revoked after an audit by the regulatory body for vocational education sparked by complaints by former students, alleging they didn’t receive the training they were promised.
Gordon Legal then launched a class action on behalf of 200 students arguing its teaching standards were so poor it didn’t meet the basic CASA requirements to obtain a pilot’s licence.
While the business had its accreditation restored it still faced sanctions.
More seriously, the ATSB is currently investigating an incident that saw a Soar Aviation instructor and student die when one of its Aquila AT01s crashed in the NSW central west last year.
Both Saket Kapoor, 38 and Shipra Sharma, 26, died when the incident occurred at a private airstrip. No conclusions have yet been reported by the ATSB.
Founder Neel Khokhani resigned in early 2019, though has insisted it was purely a result of personal health reasons unrelated to the company’s struggles.