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International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) language proficiency standard for flight crew
The aviation English language proficiency (ELP) standards for flight crew and air traffic controllers in accordance with the ICAO Standard on aviation language proficiency.
ICAO has defined six levels of language proficiency, where only the top three levels (4, 5 and 6) are acceptable for operational flight crew (holders of PPL, CPL, ATPL and FEL).
Thus, any licence application for an RPL (radio endorsement), PPL, CPL or ATPL, including a Certificate of Validation (C of V), must comply with the new language proficiency standards.
ICAO rating on ELP
No further testing required
Re-tested every 6 years
Re-tested every 3 years
How does ELP affect holders of Australian flight crew licence?
The ICAO Standard on aviation language proficiency does not affect student pilots. Student pilots are regulated by a different English language proficiency standards, known as CASA ‘general’ (not ‘aviation’) English language standard (GELP).
Flight crew with an Australian licence issued before 5 March 2008
Only if flying strictly within Australia. If you hold an Australian operational flight crew licence (PPL, CPL ATPL or FEL) and only fly domestically (within Australian national boundaries), you do not need to take any action.
New licence issue. If you upgrade your flight crew licence (e.g. from PPL to CPL or from CPL to ATPL), the new licence requires a mandatory prerequisite of at least ELP level 4.
International air operations. If you intend to conduct international operations you require at least a level 4 ELP rating. The ELP with its level and associated date of expiry must be displayed on your licence.
There are two ways of complying:
- Pass a level 6 ELP assessment conducted by a person authorized by CASA to conduct level 6 assessments. The assessors would be:
- For general aviation, Flight Examiners (FE) specifically authorized by CASA to conduct level 6 ELP (ELP6) assessments, and
- For airlines, their respective CAR 217 Training Captains specifically authorized by CASA to conduct ELP6 assessment.
- An ELP6 assessor is strictly limited to assessing applicants who are considered to be potential ‘expert’ speakers. The assessors may only grade applicants’ ELP as at or not at level 6 ELP. They are not qualified nor permitted to grade an applicant as at level 4 or 5 ELP, as the language requirements at the lower levels are difficult for an ELP6 assessor to determine without adequate linguistic/language training.
If the Head of Flying Operations (HOFO) of a flying training school deems a student pilot as unlikely to attain an ELP6, he/she must arrange for the student pilot to be assessed by one of the approved language testing centres.
Note: If a candidate is unsuccessful in an ELP6 assessment with an FE (or CAR 217 Training Captain) it should not be straightaway deemed as the candidate’s inability to meet the mandatory ELP prerequisite for licence issue. The unsuccessful attempt could well be due to the FE’s (or CAR 217 Training Captain’s) limited ELP assessor qualification, where the assessor is not permitted to award a level 4 or 5 ELP grade. Thus the candidate can still attempt for a level 4 or 5 at a CASA approved language testing centre (see next item) and qualify for licence issue.
- Pass an ELP assessment at an approved language testing centre. These centres can assess a pilot candidate (but not a student pilot) at all ELP levels.
ELP6 assessors - Flight Examiners authorised to conduct aviation language proficiency assessments
Flight Examiners approved to conduct flight tests for PPL and CPL candidates may apply to CASA to be approved as ELP6 assessors.
The applicant must possess the prerequisite qualification of a personal ELP6 rating.
Prior to approval, the applicant shall undertake CASA recommended training and pass a CASA (Flight Crew Licensing) assessment. As the CASA training and assessment programs carry significant costs, they will not be conducted on an ad hoc basis. The programs are organized at periodic intervals throughout the year. Each program will usually run for a week or, at most, two. Participants for such programs will be accepted on a 'first come, first serve' basis, therefore early applications will ensure a place in the program.
For queries on issues not covered by CASA ELP and GELP web pages, please email: email@example.com.