FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
ICAO Language Proficiency Requirements
In which languages does a licence holder need to demonstrate proficiency?

Amendment 164 to Annex 1 has introduced strengthened language proficiency requirements for flight crew members and air traffic controllers. The language proficiency requirements apply to any language used for radiotelephony communications in international operations. Therefore, pilots on international flights shall demonstrate language proficiency in either English or the language used by the station on the ground. Controllers working on stations serving designated airports and routes used by international air services shall demonstrate language proficiency in English as well as in any other language(s) used by the station on the ground.

Are all members of the flight crew required to meet the language proficiency requirements?

All pilots shall meet the language proficiency requirements when they fly internationally. The provisions contained in Annex 10, which allowed the use of interpreters, have been withdrawn.

Why is it important to initiate evaluation of language proficiency rapidly?

While the formal evaluation of language proficiency is only required as of 5 March 2008, there are good reasons to start formal evaluation of language proficiency much earlier:

  1. For recruitment purposes: It is likely that most air traffic service providers and airlines will want their new recruit to meet the language proficiency requirements as a prerequisite for recruitment;
  2. For benchmarking purposes: The establishment of the training programme required to bring existing staff to the appropriate level would require an accurate assessment of the level of language proficiency of existing staff; and
  3. To be prepared for the 5 March 2008 deadline.

What is the 'ICAO Rating Scale for Operational Level 4'?

A speaker will be rated at Operational Level 4 if the following criteria are met:

Pronunciation:
(Assumes a dialect and/or accent intelligible to the aeronautical community.) Pronunciation, stress, rhythm, and intonation are influenced by the first language or regional variation but only sometimes interfere with ease of understanding.

Structure:
(Relevant grammatical structures and sentence patterns are determined by language functions appropriate to the task.) Basic grammatical structures and sentence patterns are used creatively and are usually well controlled. Errors may occur, particularly in unusual or unexpected circumstances, but rarely interfere with meaning.

Vocabulary:
Vocabulary range and accuracy are usually sufficient to communicate effectively on common, concrete, and work-related topics. Can often paraphrase successfully when lacking vocabulary in unusual or unexpected circumstances.

Fluency:
Produces stretches of language at an appropriate tempo. There may be occasional loss of fluency on transition from rehearsed or formulaic speech to spontaneous interaction, but this does not prevent effective communication. Can make limited use of discourse markers or connectors. Fillers are not distracting.

Comprehension:
Comprehension is mostly accurate on common, concrete, and work-related topics when the accent or variety used is sufficiently intelligible for an international community of users. When the speaker is confronted with a linguistic or situational complication or an unexpected turn of events, comprehension may be slower or require clarification strategies.

Interactions:
Responses are usually immediate, appropriate, and informative. Initiates and maintains exchanges even when dealing with an unexpected turn of events. Deals adequately with apparent misunderstandings by checking, confirming, or clarifying.

Do native speakers need to be evaluated and how?

Native speakers need to be evaluated. However, in this case, it is possible to use a process similar to that which is routinely used today to ensure that applicants do not have a speech impediment that would affect their capacity to operate safely. This assessment can also be extended to non-native language assessment at the highest or Expert level. This is because native speakers can easily identify other speakers with native and/or Expert language proficiency through fluent and natural use of the language. Similarly, completely inadequate proficiency is also relatively easy to identify.

In practice, language proficiency assessment for native and/or Expert speakers can consist of an interview with a representative from the Licensing Authority such as a flight examiner. If a problem is noticed (speech impediment or inappropriately strong regional accent) during such an interview, the applicant should be referred to a specialist for follow-through.

What is the best evaluation method?

In any large scale-testing situation, it is accepted that the best practice is to permit a number of test/assessment options. For non-native language assessment, formal evaluation can currently include any of the following:

  1. An official test score on commercially available language tests (or other language tests available);
  2. A test score on an internally developed language test;
  3. An assessment provided by an outside language testing expert (available through many universities or commercial testing agencies); or
  4. An assessment provided by an in-house language-testing expert.

What are the applicability dates of the Standards on language proficiency?

Amendment 164 to Annex 1 on language proficiency became applicable on 27 November 2003. However, the application of Article 42 of the Convention on International Civil Aviation and the fact that some elements of the amendment have a deferred applicability date is creating a progressive application of the Standards which is summarized below:

Air traffic controllers
Since 27 Nov. 2003: Applicants for, and holders of an air traffic controller licence shall demonstrate the ability to speak and understand the language used for radiotelephony communications. The way in which the ability is demonstrated is determined by the Licensing Authority of each ICAO Contracting State.

As of 5 Mar. 2008: The demonstration of the ability to speak and understand the language used for radiotelephony communications shall be done in accordance with the holistic descriptor and the rating scale contained in the Appendix and the Attachment to Annex 1. Those demonstrating language proficiency below the Expert Level (Level 6) will be formally re-evaluated at intervals in accordance with their individual proficiency level. ICAO recommends that the interval be six years for those at the Extended Level (Level 5) and three years for those at the Operational Level (Level 4).

Aeroplane and helicopter pilots
Since 5 Mar. 2004: Applicants for an aeroplane and helicopter pilot licence shall demonstrate the ability to speak and understand the language used for radiotelephony communications. The way in which the ability is demonstrated is determined by the Licensing Authority of each ICAO Contracting State.

As of 5 Mar. 2008: Holders of aeroplane and helicopter pilot licences issued before 5 March 2004 shall demonstrate the ability to speak and understand the language used for radiotelephony communications.

As of 5 Mar. 2008: The demonstration of the ability to speak and understand the language used for radiotelephony communications shall be done in accordance with the holistic descriptor and the rating scale contained in the Appendix and the Attachment to Annex 1. Those demonstrating language proficiency below the Expert Level (Level 6) will be formally re-evaluated at intervals in accordance with their individual proficiency level. ICAO recommends that the interval be six years for those at the Extended Level (Level 5) and three years for those at the Operational Level (Level 4).

Aeronautical station operators
Same as for air traffic controllers.

Flight navigators
Need to demonstrate the ability to speak and understand the language used for radiotelephony communications if the flight navigator is required to use the radiotelephone aboard an aircraft. They will not be required to comply with the holistic descriptors and rating scale after 5 March 2008.

Glider and free balloon pilots and flight engineers
There is no language proficiency Standard applicable to these categories of personnel. However, Annex 1, Chapter 1, paragraph 1.2.9.3 contains a Recommendation that reads: "Flight engineers, glider and free balloon pilots should have the ability to speak and understand the language used for radiotelephony communications.".

In what intervals shall language proficiency be demonstrated?

The ICAO Standards on language proficiency require that aeroplane and helicopter pilots, air traffic controllers and aeronautical station operators who demonstrate proficiency below the Expert Level (Level 6) shall be formally evaluated at intervals in accordance with an individual's demonstrated proficiency level. The interval will have to be established by each Civil Aviation Authority. ICAO is recommending an interval of six years for those at the Extended Level (Level 5) and three years for those at the Operational Level (Level 4).

 
5/3/2014
HAA to implement Aerosolutions ELP Test
Aerosolutions has signed an agreement with the Horizon Aviation Academy.
31/12/2013
ELP Test for Flight Dispatchers (ELP-OPS)
Aerosolutions launches new English language Proficiency Test for Flight Dispatchers.
11/11/2013
Over 10,000 candidates complete ELP Test for Pilots.
Over 10,000 candidates have now completed the ELP Test, Aerosolutions' online Aviation English Test for Pilots and Air Traffic Controllers.
12/10/2013
Major update for ABACUS ATPL/CPL/IR
Aerosolutions has recently performed a major update for its Online Learning Platform ABACUS.
Copyright 2000-2018 © Aerosolutions BVBA