Monday, December 24, 2012

Abusive flight instructor 'mentally tortured' students

New Zealand's lucrative market for foreign students is under the spotlight after a group of Indian students say they were assaulted, ripped off and forced to fly in unsafe conditions at a Palmerston North flight school.

ONE News was first contacted a year and a half ago by a desperate group of Indian students who said they were being physically abused by their flight instructor, who also had control of their accommodation and their visas.

The students at Wings Flight Training Academy say they were assaulted by their chief instructor Ravindra Singh who would hit them while they were flying, causing them to lose control.

"He hit me... and banged me on the aircraft window," one of the students told ONE News.

When approached, Singh denied the allegations, but on Friday, he was found guilty of assaulting two students.

Three others also say they were assaulted.

"I was bleeding like anything and my shirt was full of blood and I told him, 'Sir, I cannot fly'. And he was like, 'No, no, no, I want you to fly right now'," said a student.

Three of Singh's students were certified medically unfit to fly due to stress. One tried to commit suicide.

"He has mentally tortured us so much, we don't concentrate on flying studies, we are scared of him," said student Arjun Ghai.

The Civil Aviation Authority grounded three of Wings' planes, finding loose nuts, missing screws and outdated maps. It also cancelled Singh's pilot license, and Wings flight school has been liquidated.

Most of the students have returned to India, but without their qualifications and without a refund of their fees.

Singh will be sentenced on the assault charges next year.

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