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Training bonds - enforceable or not?

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Training bonds - enforceable or not?

Old 10th Sep 2019, 12:26
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Training bonds - enforceable or not?

Hi all,

I'm sure most of us at some stage in our career have found ourselves in the clutches of a training bond. Through many discussions with some of my colleagues and friends from other airlines, it seems there are many different ways in which companies word their terms of such bonds. I was wondering if i could get your views on the legality the following:
  • Bonding for 2 aircraft types at the same time (and whether you have ever challenged this)
  • Non-reducing bond with time (and if you have tried to leave within the specified time frame)
  • Whether or not an airline can enforce a bond if they have not stuck to/changed the terms of their contract
I'd love to hear from anyone who has any experience of leaving within the time frame of their bond and whether they were able to get out of paying the cost or otherwise?

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Old 10th Sep 2019, 16:11
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I left my first airline within the 3 year / £15000 bond. They came after me for the remainder of the bond and I asked the for a break down of my training costs. They attempted , with landing fees, GPU, ground handling fees etc etc but would never divulge the hourly cost of the aircraft. My solicitor told them to go away and they did......
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Old 10th Sep 2019, 16:43
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And then people wonder why some companies charge in advance.

Seems that some cannot keep to the terms they signed.
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Old 10th Sep 2019, 16:56
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True cost of a type rating with hotel accomodation, three weeks of ground school and 10 4 hour FFS sessions would I think still be be about £10,000 or so. Any more is just profiteering. As to bonds. I joined my last company DEC and type rated and experienced. £4,000 over two years. Covered OCC and 4 Sim sessions. Can't complain at all.
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Old 10th Sep 2019, 18:20
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Like any contract, it doesn't matter whether it is enforceable or not........all that matters is who is prepared to spend the most in legal fees.

Generally, repudiating a training bond is bad form and there is a good chance it will bite you in the backside later down the line, no matter how right you are. That said, I see no problem contesting an unreasonable bond as long as you engage through the proper channels and don't just bail.

I might also point out I did get my way with a non-reducing training bond once. There was a bit of legal wrangling for 3 years and we eventually settled out of court for a pro-rata amount which was what I had offered when I left.

I am not a lawyer nor particularly aufait with EU law but you can google liquidated damages. A bond is form of pre-agreed damages(damages = adverse consequences of your ending your contract converted to financial terms). There could also be a penalty clause in order to deter your non-performance but a company would have a hard time using such a clause to deter your leaving. The aim of the contract is to determine reparation for the company when you leave before they have extracted their pound of flesh. In this matter common law may well render any non-reducing penalty as void and would probably impose a pro-rata settlement as that is reasonable. Of course you should consult an attorney as these thing differ from country to country.
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Old 11th Sep 2019, 08:10
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Under EU law you can be bond for training costs up to two years and it has to be pro-rata (decrease with time).
If you ask for a leave of absence the bond stalls until you return.

But it's my understanding that if the training is a sinequanon requisite for you to work for the company, the bond is not valid.
For instance I understand you cannot be bond for the OCC, or when you join a flight school for the instructor standardisation.

A type rating is a grey area and I guess it depends on the country, judge, and how good your lawyer is presenting the case.

Having said that, if I was working for an honest corporation and I left because I found something better I would honor the agreement.
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Old 11th Sep 2019, 08:19
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I left a company (it probably wouldnít take much searching through my post history to figure out which one) in 2012. Letís call it company A. I paid off my remaining training bond.

When my airline collapsed in 2017, Company A were one of the first to phone me & offer a job. Canít help but think if Iíd left sticking 2 fingers at them and asking them to chase me, they might not have been so keen.

Despite appearances, itís a small industry at times. Go careful.
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Old 11th Sep 2019, 09:59
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True cost of a type rating with hotel accomodation, three weeks of ground school and 10 4 hour FFS sessions would I think still be be about £10,000 or so. Any more is just profiteering.
Plus Base Training which is another few grand.
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Old 11th Sep 2019, 12:20
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So 5 weeks hotel assuming UK as you quote GBP would cost around GBP 3K. If an ATO can be accused of profiteering charging GBP7K+ for a TR I would be amazed
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Old 11th Sep 2019, 14:29
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Maybe if companies invested in people and accepted training as part and parcel of doing business then this would not happen. Expecting people to be liable for the costs of the very business the company went into to make money off is ridiculous.

The pilot already paid for his training to get a licence, the company must pay for training within their own organisation and if they cant afford it then they should not be in business.

Bonding and asking for pilots to pay for type ratings should be outlawed period!!
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Old 12th Sep 2019, 04:40
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Good character Barcli. Makes a mockery of those of us who have done the decent thing in the past, paid our bonds and left amicably.
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Old 12th Sep 2019, 06:49
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Many years ago I walked out of a Miami Airbus A340 course on Day 2 after Virgin Atlantic unilaterally downgraded my course (of 6) from First Officer to Second Officer. I canít remember if I was bonded or not but, when I said I was taking Virgin Atlantic to Court for breach of contract, they agreed to let me keep the 6,000 US dollar training float and call it quits. Never regretted my decision, it took one of my course mate 7 years to get his Command there as a result the downgrade (lost it though after 9/11).
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Old 12th Sep 2019, 08:49
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A tricky subject!

I have worked out several bonds and they have varied significantly in style.

The first one was quite clever: A three-year bank loan in my name was arranged by the airline and paid to the airline to cover the type-rating training costs, with the airline making the monthly repayments, stating from the date of the loan, while I worked for the airline. If I left the airline, the repayments from then on were my responsibility (they did have some protection, maybe their own insurance, that if the airline went bust the loan would be paid off so no more liability for me).

The second one was more thought-out: The bond agreement itemised the costs of all of the training with the date of commencement of the bond being the date that I got the type on my licence; the situation that Barcli mentioned could not happen there as their lawyers had already thought that out. (I needed to have a witness to my signature on the agreement and my non-flying friend who did so found the concept and figure to be eye-watering!).

In both airlines any new type-rating bond would cancel any existing bonds.

Subsequent bonds have been far less thought out and I am convinced that could easily have led to the 'get out' that Barcli mentioned. There are also some rather 'woolly' terms, such as when the bond starts, that could also be contested (neither of my first two bonds left that sort of 'fuzzy' loophole).

But this is a small industry. Think very carefully about the situation that thetimesreader84 mentions. (I have been employed by the same Flight Ops Director in two different airlines about 4 years apart, so you don't want to muddy waters behind you!) But that goes two ways too: I have had an airline manager say to me "We don't know the management at xyz, but we know about the management at xyz"! I knew two pilots who 'jumped' very harsh bonds (huge amounts for a very long time) abroad, they both ended up in jobs in major UK airlines and at their interviews each has 'come clean'and said that they had jumped this bond and in both cases had the answer "yes, we know"!! So it does work both ways.
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Old 12th Sep 2019, 09:12
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I would have done exactly that if the bond was reasonable - it was £25k for some groundschool, no sim , 45 min base check ( ok - empty) and 4 hrs flying the line ( obv not empty !!) in a 1950's turboprop......
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Old 12th Sep 2019, 10:24
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Well I guess when you have signed for it you have considered it reasonable, otherwise why did you went for it? And then all of a sudden it become unreasonable. This way of thinking and behaviour is very common and this is exactly the reason why the bonds are there. A typical direct cost of type rating to airline is above 25k (name it $ or EUR) for a narrowbody jet when you really account for all the elements and here I am not counting the expenses of line training and pilot salary during the type rating course if applicable.
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Old 12th Sep 2019, 10:27
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Did you not know it was like that when you signed?
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Old 12th Sep 2019, 11:34
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Whilst I take your point that an agreement is an agreement, this is clearly predatory behaviour by the employer. Fortunately common law protects us from ourselves. A training bond represents actual damages suffered by an employer - a punitive/deterrent or profit motive should not form part of such an agreement. Vultures that employ tactics like this deserve to have their contracts taken on review.......I believe most of the employers of this ilk have moved to PTF schemes anyway, so probably a moot point.

My second point, is that there are many reasons for leaving a company, many of them induced by the employer side and there is no reason why they should profit off me for their actions. In my case, it was a command that never materialised. When the company recruits you, they make certain statements that will induce you to enter into a contract with them. In my case, had the company said to me that I would join them as a F/O with no prospect of an upgrade due to internal politics, I would not have entered into the contract. Whilst I will unhappily pay my dues, I will not support them making a profit off my training bond, because of their misrepresentation. Had I gotten my upgrade and willingly chosen to leave for a greener pastures, I would have no issue with paying the full bond. In my case I went back to the job I had previously........
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Old 12th Sep 2019, 11:39
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Mate, if you do not have the type rating you have not “already paid for your training”. You need to get real. Reality is there are plenty of pilots ready to take the training and then jump ship when they get a better offer. It is human nature and to be expected which is why it is perfectly reasonable for any company to mitigate the loss by way of a bond. Period.
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Old 12th Sep 2019, 12:23
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1) Contract Law
2) Small industry
3) Litigation Lawyers are VERY expensive....circa £300 an hour last time I used one.

It might be hard to swallow but if it's really a move worth making my advice would be to just pay the money and move on.
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Old 12th Sep 2019, 12:53
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I'm doing a bonded type rating on a regional turboprop and I've seen the invoice of what my airline are paying the TR provider (my bond is a lot less though), it's over double your estimate, not including hotel accommodation, meal allowances and flights they're also forking out on

I do think it's poor form for people to bail out on companies who bond candidates rather than ask for up front fees, we are the first to criticise airlines who charge for the rating. Those bonding people should be commended, not left with a bitter taste in their mouths and managers determined to make every future pilot pay.
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