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Language standards frequently asked questions
- When did CASA implement the ICAO Standard on language proficiency for flight crew?
CASA has been fully compliant with the ICAO Standards on language proficiency since 5 March 2008. The Standards applies to flight crew conducting international flights as well as to all new issues of operational flight crew licence (PPL, CPL, ATPL, FEL and Certification of validation).
With effect from 05 March 2008, holders of Australian flight crew licence conducting operations in international airspace and applications for new Australian operational flight crew licence (including Certification of validation) must comply with this ICAO Standards.
The Operational flight crew licence does not include student pilot licence, for which a different English standard (GELP) applies.
GELP stands for 'general English language proficiency'. The GELP requirement for holders of student pilot licence (SPL) is an uniquely Australian standards which came into effect on 01 January 2009. It is different from the ICAO Standards and thus will not be described on this page.
- Where can I apply for an assessment of my English language proficiency (ELP)?
Advice: Apply for ELP assessment only after you have been instructed in aviation English (including R/T procedures and ICAO phraseology) and have almost completed flying training for your licence.
The first tier (Level 6 ELP only) is meant only for applicants who are potential expert speakers (of any nationality) in aviation English.
It is unlikely for an applicant who has neither received instruction in aviation English (including R/T procedures and ICAO phraseology) nor practised/applied same through adequate flying training exposure in both the aerodrome and airspace environment to be able to achieve an ELP rating. While a good command of general English is a helpful pre-requisite to proficiency in aviation English, applicants should not mistake fluency in the former as equivalent to fluency in the latter.
Native English speakers who have speech defect or strong regional accent, which could render communication difficult with ATC or/and pilots of other aircraft, may not qualify for Level 6 ELP.
At this assessment tier, CASA has trained, assessed and authorised many of its approved testing officers (ATOs) to conduct (only) Level 6 ELP assessments. The authorised ATOs may only assess applicants who have the potential to be level 6 ELP speakers, and grade them at either that level or not. They are not permitted to grade candidates at a lower level of ELP, which shall be the role of CASA approved ELP specialist centres.
These ATOs may be contacted at various aerodromes and flying training schools throughout Australia.
Note: Not every ATO is authorised to conduct Level 6 ELP assessment.
The second tier has Australian ELP specialist centres authorised by CASA to assess applicants at all ELP levels (4, 5 or 6).
Applicants should note that CASA approval is more related to the ELP 'Tests' conducted by these organisations rather than the organisations themselves. Therefore, when applying for an assessment, applicant should inform the assessor at the language specialist centre that they seek a CASA approved ELP assessment. This is to ensure that the applicant does not inadvertently undertake an ELP test which is not approved by CASA.
- May I undertake an assessment with an overseas language assessment centre and have the result endorsed in my Australian flight crew licence?
No. CASA only accepts assessment reports from its approved ELP assessors, who are all based in Australia. CASA has not approved any overseas based ELP assessor.
However, a couple of CASA approved (Australian-based) ELP specialist centres have licensed overseas agents. Subject to confirmation of their bona fides by the parent organisations here in Australia, CASA may consider accepting assessments conducted by these overseas centres. CASA acceptance of ELP assessments by these licensed overseas agents is not automatic and shall be solely at the discretion of CASA. Each application shall be assessed on its merits.
Note: ASL in New Zealand is not approved. Though CASA has approved some ELP specialist centres in Australia, these centres may have specific tests which are yet to receive CASA approval, and thus won't be accepted by CASA.
- I hold a New Zealand CAA-issued flight crew licence holder and want my licence to be recognised by Australia. How does this affect me?
If you apply for the issue of an Australian licence on the basis of your equivalent New Zealand professional licence, you are expected to have in your New Zealand professional licence an ELP rating which is compliant with the ICAO SARP. If you do not have one, you may apply to have your ELP assessed here in Australia.
- Does CASA recognise English language proficiency ratings endorsed by the regulatory authorities of other countries?
It shall be at the sole discretion of CASA to recognise an overseas English language rating. One of the requirements CASA will require is for the foreign aviation regulatory authority issuing the ELP rating to be fully compliant with the ICAO SARP on language proficiency.
- What does CASA mean by full compliance with the ICAO SARP on language proficiency?
CASA may consider accepting a foreign ELP rating if it possesses at least two essential characteristic, namely:
- The overseas flight crew licence has been issued by an ICAO contracting State that has complied with the ICAO SARP on language proficiency or has indicated to ICAO it will comply by a particular date, and
- The ELP rating has been endorsed in the overseas flight crew licence with an acceptable level of proficiency (Levels 4 or 5 or 6) and which carries an expiry date (except for Level 6), and
May I have my Australian flight crew licence updated with a CASA-recognised ELP rating in a foreign flight crew licence?
Provided you furnish CASA with a certified true copy of your foreign licence, and CASA recognises the ELP recorded in the overseas flight crew licence, your Australian licence may be updated with that ELP (including its rating level and expiry date).
- I want to convert my foreign flight crew licence to an Australia equivalent licence. I have an ELP rating on my foreign licence. Will CASA convert it?
It depends. If CASA does not recognise the ELP issued by the foreign regulatory authority, you may apply for an ELP assessment in Australia. The issue of an Australian flight crew licence requires as a minimum a Level 4 ELP rating.
- What if I don't have an ELP on my foreign licence? Will CASA still convert my overseas licence?
Only if you undertake an ELP assessment in Australia with one of CASA's approved assessors and achieve at least a Level 4 ELP rating.
- Do I have to have a language proficiency rating for the (non-English) language of another country if I fly over there?
English is the accepted international language for aviation. But if you propose to fly within a foreign country (other than to/from its international airports) you should check with the regulatory authority of that country.
- How do I get a copy of my flight crew licence displaying my ELP rating?
Flight crew licence holders shall apply for an updated copy of their flight crew licence which includes their ELP rating. The cost recovery for the application is $25.00.