The students and employees of Jet University have asked that this website remain up even though Jet University has gone out of business.
It is hoped that those students that are looking for a career in aviation will use our experience detailed in this website to learn the proper way to check out, verify and pay for their flight training. The information in this website has never been put together in one place before. This industry has always had the "don't ask--don't tell" mentality when it comes to flight training. Many people knew this type of scam was going on, but they didn't say anything. Or if they did say something, no one would listen.
Jet University began in May of 2006 in a one room rented office at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport. The business grew into a 20,000 square foot "former Gulfstream Airlines training facility" in September 2006. Business ceased on May 09, 2009 and the school shut down.
This website was put up in November 2008 while the school was still operating by some of the Jet University students. As we started to compare notes and our experiences, we found out that a lot of information had been hidden from us. Until this website was posted, we had no contact or connection with former Jet University students. We had never known of any problems that students had that were no longer at Jet University.
As former students started getting in touch with us, we realized this was a scam that had been going on for a long time. Those early students had been scammed just like we had been scammed. Those early students lost a lot of money just like what we were going through. Those early students didn't get their guaranteed jobs. Those early students didn't get their guaranteed flight time.
We had been lied too and everyone had kept silent because Jet University had convinced the students that if they said something that their airline career would be ruined and no one would want to hire them.
The result was that everyone indicated that things were great. No one bothered to file a Better Business Bureau Complaint. The scam continued at Jet University just like it had at many other Florida flight schools over the past several decades. Jet University continued to get away with the deception because no one knew what to do and no one said anything about it.
No one regulated Jet University. There was no licensing other than a $25 Broward Country business license.
The state of Florida did not regulate Jet University because they thought the FAA regulated Jet University and thus exempted all flight schools from any state regulation.
The FAA didn't regulate Jet University because the FAA doesn't regulate flight schools. (There is a small exception in that the FAA does approve courses for flight schools operating under part 141--but even this regulation is very weak and does not examine the financial status, or protect the student tuition at any flight school) Jet University was never a part 141 flight school even though they advertised as such. Even this false FAA 141 advertising could not be stopped by the FAA because they had no jurisdiction over Jet University. The FAA never handles any consumer or money issues. The FAA has never looked at a financial statement of a flight school.
In the three years that Jet University was in business, it is estimated that students lost over FIFTEEN MILLION DOLLARS and most students did not receive all or some of their training or their guaranteed jobs.
A total of fifty two pilots that already had their ratings (Instrument-Commercial-Multi Engine) when they came to Jet University were actually accepted into a training class at Pinnacle Airlines. Out of these fifty two pilots, about forty accepted. Out of the forty that accepted, about nine flunked out of the Pinnacle Class. This left somewhere around thirty one Jet University students that were actually hired by Pinnacle Airlines.
When it was all said and done only 2 "zero time" Jet University students were successful in obtaining the 'GUARANTEED JOBS" that were advertised and promised in writing.
Everyone that walked through the door at Jet University was promised and guaranteed a job flying as a first officer in a Regional Jet. That was the only reason that most students chose to attend Jet University.
A total in excess of two hundred and twenty students were enrolled in Jet University. Some students paid up to $100,000 for their training. Most paid in the $70,000 range. The students that already had their ratings paid between $17,000-$30,000 for their CRJ training which consisted of an 11 week airline indoc course utilizing the Pinnacle Airline training manuals.
Knowing what we know now, we can establish that Jet University was a scam from the very beginning. The jobs they guaranteed could not possibly be provided. The management knew this, but this is how they marketed the school.
The first flight class that started at Jet University was March 12, 2007. The last Jet class hired by Pinnacle Airlines was April 2008. There were four students in the April 2008 Jet class and Pinnacle hired only one of those students. Two of those students were underage and did not find out until the end ($70,000+ later) that Pinnacle does not hire pilots under 21.
As most of you know, what is really going on here is that Jet University has collected up to $70,000 from over 220 students and not provided the flight training and/or "guaranteed jobs" for 166 of those students as agreed to in their own written contracts and advertised on their website and in their marketing materials.
One hundred and sixty six (166) students have not been provided the CRJ First Officer Pilot Jobs as guaranteed in the Jet University contract. (see GUARANTEED JOBS section)
This involves millions of dollars that has somehow disappeared. Most of this money is still owed to banks as student loans.
During the summer of 2008, Jet University, Inc. appeared to be running out of money in spite of collecting $70,000 upfront from hundreds of students.
Here is a little history for those that are no longer at JetU.
When Jet U realized they were running out of money, they went into panic mode. The first thing they did was call the entire class in for a "pop quiz" That was a day before the FAA was going to inspect the airplanes on the ramp. This was towards the end of June 2008. When the entire class failed the pop quiz, JetU then grounded everyone from flying until the end of the month.
That grounding saved FUEL. FUEL that Jet U did not have to pay for even though the students had already prepaid for their flight training. They then closed the school for a LONG 4th of July vacation (even more than Christmas) of 10 days. That was 10 more days of no flying and of course NO FUEL BILLS.
I was actually surprised that the school was still there when we came back from 4th of July vacation. But I was happy that it was.
Then on July 17th all students were called into a meeting and it was announced that we would now be paying a fuel surcharge effective July 21, 2008. They said that every other flight school was charging a fuel surcharge except JetU.
What they failed to take into account was the other schools that were charging a fuel surcharge were charging by the hour, had not required $70,000 upfront and they based their fuel surcharges on the increased fuel price from January 2008 to the present time.
Fuel had gone up less than $1 a gallon since most of us had been there, but they charged us $2.61-$3.44 per gallon (more) as a fuel surcharge. The rate varied depending upon the plane. The planes burn from 6-20 gallons per hour so the fuel surcharge was $16-$60 per hour. Keep in mind that students had already pre-paid around $70,000 each.
Students were required to pay for this fuel surcharge immediately after a flight by credit card or check. This fuel surcharge was supposed to be deducted from our $70,000 as per the contract, but of course Jet U had already blown through the $70,000 so they wanted more money.
The result was that students that were already up to their eyes in $70,000 loans could not get any more money to pay for the fuel surcharges. Many were forced to leave school. The $70,000 was down the drain. Jet U no longer had it and they could not refund it and they refused to let the students fly.
This also impacted the flight instructors because when the students could not fly, then the flight instructors could not fly. The flight instructors are only paid when the students fly. Flight instructors at JetU are paid $21 per flight hour. So with the students not flying, the flight instructor paychecks were cut. Most flight instructors were down to 2 hours or less per day and the planes just sat on the ramp.
THEN WE LOST THE RAMP
The planes had been parked on the ramp within a short walking distance from the back door of the school. There is an area between the school and Banyan that had all of the tie downs for the planes.
Money was getting tight and JetU "found" some cheaper tie downs down past the abandoned fire station at KFXE. So they moved all of the planes down to that area in July 2008.
The planes were no longer within walking distance. Now you had to get the can, for the plane, from dispatch and find your instructor and then drive to the plane. You had to park your car on a grass area and then enter the security gate and walk about half a mile to where the planes were parked. Since JetU requires that everyone wear pilot uniforms, it was even hotter and dirtier than you could imagine as you had to walk through tall grass and ditches to get to and untie your JetU plane. You had to walk in a ditch to pre-flight the plane.
We were told that the planes were moved so that the tower could see us and this would reduce taxi time. The result was that it actually increased taxi time because we now had to taxi further than before.
There was no oil or other supplies in that area. So if you needed oil, you had to call Banyan for it and have it delivered. It just was not possible to go back to JetU and take another 30-45 minutes to pick up oil. I'm sure oil delivered from Banyan is way more expensive than the bulk packaged oil that JetU had at the dispatch area.
It also increased the time to get fuel. Since the Banyan fuel truck had to leave their ramp to come and fuel JetU planes, we were the last priority for fuel. Sometimes we would have to wait 45 minutes for fuel.
One time I remember calling for fuel and waiting and waiting and waiting. It never came. When I looked in the fuel tank, it looked pretty empty. There was less than a 1/4 inch of fuel there. I was with an instructor on a checkride. He insisted we had enough fuel for our 1.5 hour flight because the gauges were showing fuel. When I protested that my eyeballs were not seeing the fuel in the tank, he got onto me and said that I didn't know the plane and there was fuel in the tanks that you couldn't see.
We took off and were up for about 10 minutes when the low fuel indicator started activating on the G1000. We immediately started coming back to the airport. However ATC routed us over the ocean for the ILS approach. We made it back, but we were pretty much out of fuel.
Needless to say, this remote parking arrangement could not sustain and the planes were moved back up to the former ramp in September. I guess the higher ramp rent was cheaper than buying that expensive oil.
JET U PLANES START TO LOSE ENGINES
Three planes lost engines in August. The first plane was the DA40 tail number 787HC which was Heath's personal plane that he leased back to JetU. The second plane was N1386T which was the Piper Arrow.
When the planes went in for oil changes, Premier Aviation found something in the drained oil that indicated abnormal wear on the engines. They blamed it on excessive throttling by the students and sent out a note to that effect. However, it may have been caused by low oil levels in the planes because oil was not available in the remote area and students and instructors did not want to wail 45 minutes for Banyan to bring oil so the plane could be topped off. There is a podcast that talks about engine oil analysis here: ENGINE OIL ANAYLSIS PODCAST LINK
There were many days that I had to put more than one quart of oil in the planes during pre-flight. I once went out with Jim O' Brian (instructor no longer there) and the DA40 was 3 quarts low. He was not happy. We then checked ALL of the JetU aircraft on the ramp and most were low by more than one quart. I think he wrote a report up on this.
The other plane that lost an engine was one of the old twin engines that JetU had acquired. It was tail number N888CS. I never flew this plane. UPDATE: This plane suffered a gear up landing on 04/06/09 at KFXE 22:30 HOURS.
So at the end of August 2008, JetU was down to one operating DA40 (N727FP) and no complex aircraft. It would remain that way for the next 12 weeks. The DA20's were still flying and there was one older twin engine plane. They still had the DA42, but you could only fly it a couple of days prior to your check ride and on your check ride. They were trying to preserve time on the DA42 because of the gearbox issue.
THE DREADED NO FLY LIST
Students started getting notes, letters, or e-mails from Barbara or Lorelei telling them they were on the no fly list because they were out of money. (They weren't) Barbara was deeply involved in this scam.
The way it worked, was Heath made up a number that was owed and Barbara sent a letter saying you could not fly until you paid a certain amount. (In sales lingo this is known as a "BUMP")
If you paid the first amount, then she would send another letter telling you that owed more and the cycle would repeat until the student simply ran out of money, or got fed up, and left the school. Of course the school kept their $70,000 which was supposed to be in escrow.
Heath was pretty slick in the way he did this. He would come up with a number like $11,000 that you owed "because you used more hours than you were supposed to" and then he would "make a deal" with you by reducing the trumped up $11,000 charge to $8000. Because it looked like Heath was trying to help (instead of trying to scam) students often paid the "reduced" amount because they didn't see what was going on here.
In my case, there were no twin engine planes available to continue my training, at the end of August 2008, and so they made up a pretty big number ($11,400) to keep me away and put me on the no fly list. Considering that I had only flown 82 hours (single engine) at Jet U and I had prepaid $63,000, my attorney advised me not to give them any more money.
OLD PLANES START SHOWING UP-BRING BACK THE 70'S
Most of us chose JET U because the planes were all new and had the glass cockpits. (See Home Page YouTube Video) I was told when I toured the school during August of 2007 that they would lease the planes for one year and then send them back and get new planes. That turned out not to be true. I've never seen any "new" planes added from August 2007 until now.
The reason that all of the planes looked new in August of 2007 was because they were new. That was because the school had not been in business very long. They never really would tell you when Jet U actually started in business. I used to think it was the beginning of 2007, but Heath once told me that was not correct. The actual start date for Jet University was May 2006. The school started with a jet transition program for those that already had their ratings. The actual Jet University flight school part started in March of 2007.
The first old planes that started showing up were the planes from the 1970's. N888CS is a 1972 Piper PA-34-200. Then came N2128L which is a 1976 Beach Baron. Obviously none of these 30 year old planes had glass cockpits. The planes were actually older than most of the students flying them! It turned out that Heath had talked one of the Jet University students into buying these planes and leasing them back to Jet University. You just knew that this student was going to get screwed at some point during the leaseback process. (He was)
It was a big letdown from the 2007 model DA40's and 2006 DA42's that we had signed up for. Now we had old planes just like a lot of less expensive FBO's had. The next old plane that showed up was an old 1980 model (N6495V) Cessna 172RG to replace our shiny new Arrow that was now out of the fleet. I later learned this Cessna was borrowed from Airborne Systems. (see Jet U Fleet for more info)
Since then Jet U has added the following old planes:
N704HB is a 1976 Cessna 150
N48757 is a 1977 Cessna 152
The newest "old plane" is only 9 years old:
N9935F is a 1999 Cessna 172R
SAVED BY THE INDIAN STUDENTS
Jet U started recruiting Indian students in the spring of 2008. The Indian students started arriving at Jet U in the Summer of 2008. Since Jet U took their link down for this information, you can see their flyer here:
If you look at this closely you will see that JETU has set a "trap" for these Indian students. They put in the minimum hours. This is not a new trick in the industry, but it is a new trick for JETU. We know that most pilots can not get their ratings in the minimum required FAA hours. In fact I have only ever met one person that did.
So what is going to happen is that after JetU gets the Indian students money and they are part way through their training, the student will get a letter or e-mail from Barbara or Lorelei telling them they are out of money and on the no fly list. Now you have an Indian student stuck in a foreign country thousands of miles from home. The Indians will be "easy pickins" for Jet U. What can the Indian student possibly do?
Keep in mind also that JETU states the following:
"Our FAA approved Part 141 and Part 61 Commercial Pilot Training Course can be combined with our Jet Transition and Airbus 320/Boeing 737 Part 142 Type Rating Programs"
There are several problems with the foregoing statement.
1. JetU is not FAA approved under Part 141.
2. JetU does not have an Airbus 320 or Boeing 737 training program or simulator.
3. Jet U does not do Part 142 Training.