Pre-requisite for issue of a Student Pilot Licence - FAQs
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
- Why must I provide the CFI with documentary evidence that I have either completed a secondary education in English or been working for 3 out of the last 5 years in a specified English speaking country to be issued a Student Pilot Licence (SPL)?
This is to ensure that you have a basic level of oral proficiency in general English which will support your attainment of at least a Level 4 in ICAO (aviation) English language proficiency by the completion of your flying training; before CASA can issue an Australian PPL, CPL or ATPL the applicant must be able to demonstrate at least a Level 4 proficiency in the ICAO (aviation) language proficiency rating. Your secondary English school education or recent work experience in an English speaking environment represents reasonable evidence of general English language proficiency which will support your eventual attainment of the ICAO language proficiency standard.
- Why would I need to have such documentary evidence when I am an Australian, who was born and bred in this country?
The issue pertains to evidence of oral proficiency in general English and does not involve nationality.
- What is meant by ′secondary school education′?
Secondary education is that phase of school education which, for some Australian States, is known as Year 7 to Year 10 (overseas equivalent, especially in Commonwealth countries, is Form I to Form V). The phase starts immediately after primary schooling (Years 1 to 6 in Australia, or overseas equivalent) and ends before Years 11 and 12 in Australia (Higher School Certificate education or FormsLower and Upper 6 in some Commonwealth countries).
Provided it is part of secondary schooling, CASA will accept Year 12 (Higher School) Certificate or its equivalent in Australian states and territories, specified countries, or other countries, as long as the principle medium of instruction was English.
- What is meant by the term ′one of the principal medium of instruction′?
This means that the English language was used as the medium of teaching in approximately 50% of the curriculum in secondary schooling. CASA may require the applicant to provide further evidence of this, and has the final discretion in determining whether the standard has been met.
- Instead of secondary school education, can I provide evidence of a degree or postgraduate degree in tertiary education?
No, the pre-requisite standard in CAO 40.0 emphasises an oral proficiency in the English language rather than reading or writing proficiency or knowledge of higher learning. Oral proficiency in a language is facilitated by regular social-oral interaction which is likely to be experienced during secondary schooling.
Unlike secondary school education, many tertiary courses do not guarantee such regular social-oral interactions. Furthermore, Australian tertiary education may be obtained offshore or in partnership with a university in a foreign country which may not have regular social-oral interactions in English.
Therefore CASA specifically requires evidence of ongoing, or completion of, secondary school education in the English language.
- What if I lost my certificate showing I have completed secondary school education?
Your first action would be to write to your secondary school asking for a re-print of your certificate. If the school does not have a copy of evidence that you completed secondary education they may write a letter, on the school letter-head, stating that you completed your secondary education, which includes the years of your attendance at that secondary school.
If your secondary school cannot or will not provide you with documentary evidence of you completing your secondary education you should write to the Board of Studies (or equivalent) in your state or country for your certificate. This may possibly incur a fee from that organisation.
If you cannot obtain your certificate from the Board of Studies (or equivalent) you may have to look at addressing one of the other standards.
Only as a last resort you may make a Statutory Declaration that you have completed your secondary school education in which the principal medium of instruction was in the English language, but you are advised that in Australia intentionally making a false statement as a statutory declaration is a crime equivalent to perjury, and punishable by fines and/or a prison sentence.
You should speak with the CFI at your flying school about your options.
- If I have one of these documents to show that I have completed secondary school education, will I still need to be assessed by the CFI?
Yes, regardless of what secondary school education or work experience you have, the CFI is still required to personally assess your level of oral English proficiency. The documentary evidence and the CFI's assessment are complementary but not alternatives.
- What if I have passed an ICAO English proficiency assessment with at least a Level 4, if not higher, either with a CASA approved Level 6 English Language Proficiency assessor or an overseas assessor? Will I still have to satisfy one of the criteria for the issue of a SPL?
There is no provision in Civil Aviation Order 40.0 to recognise 'aviation' English language proficiency assessment for the issue of a SPL.
The ICAO Standard for English language proficiency relates to aviation English (not general English) and requires operational command of, among other English language attributes, the ICAO standard phraseologies.
'Operational command' of ICAO standard phraseologies means that the individual has a good knowledge and sound comprehension of ICAO phraseologies, and the ability to respond correctly to such phraseologies while in flight or on the ground (at least to ICAO Level 4 language proficiency standards).
Acquiring a command of ICAO phraseologies is deemed unlikely without a proper course of instruction and commensurate exposure to their use in the operational flight environment.
CASA assesses that an applicant for a SPL will not be able to possess an operational command of ICAO standard phraseologies, and thus will not accept any Level 4, 5 or 6 in ICAO language proficiency as a substitute to the published criteria for the issue of a SPL.
- What documentary evidence should I produce to verify my work experience?
Tax returns of that country, group certificates, superannuation documents (or employee/central provident funds), a letter of confirmation from an employer/s (the letter should be on a company letter-head and their contact details and dates of employment are essential), state documents on pension or social benefits for the applicant. CASA may contact the employer/s in question to verify the details provided by the applicant.
The above need not be submitted with any financial details (which can be blanked out) as the aim is just to ascertain work experience for a period of 3 of the last 5 years in that country.
Other documentary evidence may be provided but CASA shall determine whether those would be acceptable. Your CFI should consult CASA on the acceptability of such documents.
- I understand that as long as I can show proof that I have worked in one of the 'specified countries', I would be considered as proficient in general English, and eligible for the issue of a SPL?
No, that isn't necessarily so. There are non English speaking regions or pockets in the 'specified countries', such as in French speaking Canada or Latin speaking USA, where work experience or residency may not equip the applicant with general English language proficiency.
This is where the CFI must determine whether the SPL applicant's general English language proficiency is sufficient to follow the flight training course meaningfully and conduct the flying training operations safely.
Despite the provision of documentary evidence as specified in CAO 40.0 subsection 8 (b), the CFI has the final say in determining whether the student has the required general English language proficiency. The CFI may well assess the student as not having adequate proficiency in general English language to participate in the flying training course.
If the CFI is not satisfied with the applicant's oral English proficiency, he/she shall recommend further English language training to the applicant.
In making a subsequent application, documentary evidence of the applicant's general English language proficiency has to be supported by a pass in one of the international general English tests, namely, IELTS, TOEIC or TOEFL. The CASA-specified minimum score for each of these tests is published in CAO 40.0, Appendix 3.
- Regarding work experience, what is meant by a 'specified country'?
As defined in CAO 40.0 subsection 6, 'specified countries' are (a) United Kingdom, (b) Republic of Ireland, (c) United States of America, (d) New Zealand, and (e) Canada.
The intention is to identify countries where the English language is used regularly as an everyday (official, social, educational, cultural or working) language.
- Who can complete a Statutory Declaration as evidence of meeting the CAO?
Only applicants from one of the 'specified countries' can complete a statutory declaration as evidence of meeting the English language standards as outlined in CAO 40.0.
Applicants intending to make a statutory declaration are reminded again that it is a crime to intentionally make a false statement as a statutory declaration which is considered as perjury, and is punishable by fines and/or a prison sentence.
The statutory declaration must be made in a prescribed form and witnessed by a person as specified in the Statutory Declarations Regulations (1993), which include legal and medical practitioners, Justices of the Peace, notary public officers, and police officers.
- Why complete a Statutory Declaration?
Applicants should only complete a statutory declaration if they cannot provide documentary evidence of meeting CAO 40.0 through the provision of a secondary education document or documents proving a work history of 3 out of the last 5 years in one of the 'specified countries' and who would otherwise meet the education or work history standard.
- What must the Statutory Declaration declare?
Applicants are reminded that under Australian laws, a person who wilfully makes a false statement in a statutory declaration is guilty of an offence and may be fined or jailed, or both.
When a SPL applicant submits a statutory declaration in lieu of an original document as evidence of meeting one of the requirements listed under CAO 40.0.8(b), the applicant must nominate the specific requirement of the CAO that is being addressed. This is mandatory before the statutory declaration can be accepted by CASA as evidence of meeting CAO 40.0.8(b).
Thus, if the applicant is addressing the education standard they must explicitly state they completed their secondary education, or are still attending a secondary education institution, and must name the school attended, its address, years of attendance and, where possible, contact details. CASA may verify the details provided in a statutory declaration with the named institution.
Eg. 'I declare I have completed 5 years of secondary schooling at ABC school in St Kilda, 123, High St, Vic 3010, Melbourne 3010 from 1990 to 1994. The school′s phone as listed in the directory is 03 9898 8989.'
On the other hand, if the applicant′s statutory declaration addressed his/her working experience in a specified country, the applicant must name the employer/s for which he/she worked, contact details and the dates of employment. CASA may check with the employer/s to verify the declaration made by the applicant.
Eg. 'I declare I worked with Brkic Bakery, 99, Erindale Avenue, Canberra 2905 from Jan 2006 to Dec 2009. The manager is Mrs Brkic, and the bakery′s phone number as listed in the directory is 02 7777 6666.'
CASA will not accept a statutory declaration which does not address any of the requirements listed in CAO 40.0.8(b), such as 'I declare I am a native English speaker and speak English fluently' or 'I declare I am Australian born and a native English speaker' or 'I declare I was born in Australia, have lived here all my life, and speak only English.'
- If I lose my certificate for IELTS (or TOEFL or TOEIC), may I make a Statutory Declaration in lieu?
No, you should apply to the respective general English testing organisation for a reprint of your certificate or report. The use of a statutory declaration only applies to the categories for secondary schooling that is equivalent to an Australian secondary education or work experience in one of the 'specified countries'.
- Will it be necessary or desirable for me, as an English speaking Australian to pass one of the international general english tests such as IELTS, TOEIC or TOEFL?
It is not necessary because documentary evidence indicating secondary education or work experience, particularly in Australia, would be sufficient. If this is not practical, you may make a Statutory Declaration.
- If I propose to attend or have attended a general English language course, how do I find out whether its certificate of course completion will be accepted by CASA as meeting the standard for issue of a SPL?
CASA approved general English courses are those which have complied with the provisions of CAO 40.0, subsection 12. You may contact CLARC either via telephone on 131 757 or email at email@example.com, providing details of the English language course.
- I didn′t do my secondary education in one of the specified countries or in the English medium, and haven't worked in one of the specified English speaking countries for 3 of the last 5 years but I speak fluent English. Do I have to do an IELTS, TOEIC, or TOEFL test?
Not necessarily. If you didn't complete your secondary education in which the principle medium of instruction was English, and you have not been working in one of the specified English speaking countries for at least 3 of the last 5 years yet (and provided) you speak fluent English, you may be able to be assessed by one of the CASA approved general English language proficiency assessors. You should ask your flying school for the contact details of a CASA approved assessor.
- I am an Australian, or from one of the specified English speaking countries but cannot provide documentary evidence of meeting the education or work history standard. Should I do a general English language assessment with a CASA approved person?
Not necessarily. Provided you meet either the secondary school or work history standard, you may complete a statutory declaration outlining the standard you are addressing and how you have met the standard, and full details of, including contacts at, either the secondary school attended or your previous work organisation(s).
However, if you prefer, provided you are fluent in general English, you may undertake a general English language proficiency assessment with a CASA approved assessor.
- What do I do if I fail a general English language proficiency assessment by a CASA approved assessor?
CASA recommends that you should undertake further English language training. When you re-submit your application for a SPL, you will be required to provide documentary evidence of passing to the CASA-specified minimum score one of the general English language tests outlined in appendix 3 of CAO 40.0.