On 3 June 2019, the Slovak Transport Authority has published an online memo changing the process of language proficiency endorsement into pilot licenses issued by the Authority.
In the past, there were many controversies with the radio telephone operator certificate issued by the Telecommunication Authority. Various interpretations of rights stemming from the radio telephone operator certificate led to many debates.
The Transport Authority provides the following statement:
"The Slovak Transport Authority informs the public on the changes in radio-telephony certification (R/T) endorsement format into the license field XII.
The current endorsement format - the holder of this license has demonstrated competence to use R/T equipment on board of aircraft in ... language.
...has changed followingly - See the stand-alone radio telephone operator certificate.
New applicants for pilot licenses will automatically be issued the new version of the license with new text.
The Authority will replace old versions of licenses with the new version to all current holders of pilot licenses at their next license endorsement of license replacement free of charge. It is not necessary to petition for the replacement individually. The licenses with the old text versions remain fully valid and equal with the new licenses.
Neither the current holders of licenses, nor the applicants are required to provide proof of their radio telephone operator competency to the Transport Authority. It is the responsibility of the license holders and applicants to fulfill the requirements set in the Communications and Radio Telephony Operations Act no. 351/2011."
The new formulation has raised several questions, which we compiled and sent to the Transport Authority.
How is it possible, that the Transport Authority as the supervising authority, the National Aviation Authority, and the state of license issue are at one point responsible for RT licenses pursuant to FCL.055(e), but in case of VFR flights not?
It is necessary to distinguish between the ability to use R/T equipment and language proficiency (whether pursuant to ICAO or FCL.055(d) requirements).
FCL.055(e) stipulates: The demonstration of language proficiency and the use of English for IR or EIR holders shall be done through a method of assessment established by the competent authority.
Therefore, the states can set conditions for ICAO and IFR English proficiency certification, without setting conditions for R/T certification.
Furthermore, the EU Commission Regulation No. 1178/2011 does not contain any regulatory statute for VFR qualification holders, compared to IFR qualification holders.
The requirements for R/T communication of "VFR pilots" are set only in AMC1 FCL.210.A (b)(2), AMC1 FCL.210.H (c)(2), AMC1 FCL.210.As (b)(2).
"Before allowing the applicant for a PPL(A) to undertake his/her first solo flight, the FI should ensure that the applicant can use R/T communication." In case of Slovakia, this is ensured by checking the radio telephone operator certificate. The regulations does not prescribe further requirements for Transport Authorities.
How and where is the link between the former Telecommunication Authority and its exams provided according to Part FCL and Part SERA stated?
It is not clear what exams according to 1178/2011 or SERA you mean specifically.
These exams (apart from those included in FCL.055) are regulated by Act no. 351/2011. For example § 37 states:
(1) The specialized radio instruments can only be operated by an individual with the specialized competence for their use. The specialized competence is a complex of theoretical and practical experience along with the knowledge of the generally binding legal statutes regulating the operation of the specialized radio instruments. Without the specialized competence, the individual can only operate such instruments in training and under the the supervision of a qualified person holding the specialized competence. The instruments can also be operated by individuals whose specialized competence has been recognized by the Authority.
(2) The specialized competence is examined by the Authority and validated with the certificate. The examination board is appointed by the Authority Chair.
(3) The specialized competence application form includes:
a) first name, second name, date of birth, and applicant's titles,
b) applicant's permanent residence address,
c) the required type of specialized competence,
d) applicant's level of education, and
e) further supplements pursuant to the regulatory statutes issued by the Authority.
(4) The obligation defined in Section 1 does not concern operations of specialized radio instruments used by the branches of the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Interior, and the Slovak Information Service when used in protection of the Republic, security of the Republic, ensuring public order, protection of life, health, and property.
(5) The specialized radio instruments are:
a) radio station operating in shortwave bands reserved for telegraphy and telephony operations,
b) aircraft station,
c) aircraft ground station,
d) aviation station,
e) aeronautical earth station,
f) ship radio station,
g) ship earth station,
h) coastal station,
i) amateur radio station.
(6) Further specifications of the specialized instruments, examination board, contents, scope, process of exam, and certificates of competence will be defined in binding legal statute issued by the Authority...
What is the process of the exam? How is the ability to operate radio instruments assessed? Is there some practical simulation?
Who guarantees the credibility and certification of the exam?
Has this person passed the aviation communication, radio-phraseology, Part FCL, and Part SERA competency exams?
How is the successful exam documented? The radio telephone operator certificate issued by the Authority is valid only in Slovakia, and onboard "OM" planes listed in the Slovak Civil Aircraft Register. Since the certificate is neither a part of EASA FORM 141, nor a part of its appendices, it is legally invisible in EASA countries outside Slovakia.
The abovementioned questions should be addressed to the Regulatory Authority for Electronic Communications and Postal Services. However, most of the answers can be found here: https://www.teleoff.gov.sk/skusky-osobitnej-odbornej-sposobilosti/
R/T authorization is part of EASA Form 141.
There is the field XII in the pilot license:
Radiotelephony authorizations: the holder of this license has demonstrated competence to use R/T equipment on board of aircraft in ... (specify language).
(XII) authorizations and certificates: class rating, type rating, instructor competences and so on... with the expiration dates.
Radiotelephony (R/T) authorizations can be included within the license or presented on a separate certificate.
The Transport Authority currently issues licenses with Field XII including the link to a separate certificate issued by the Regulatory Authority for Electronic Communications and Postal Services. In the past, the Transport Authority used to endorse the language/languages for which the certificate was issued.
Example: Applicant requires to change SOLI from the Slovak Transport Authority to some different EASA country. The country's National Aviation Authority inquires the Slovak Authority on language proficiency of the applicant. Will the Slovak Authority be unable to provide a competent statement?
We encounter these request on a daily basis. So far, the foreign NAA has always been interested only the ICAO language competency. At least I have never encountered any inquires regarding specifically R/T competency for VFR personally. Similarly, this issue has never been discussed during EASA audits and EASA has been interested in FCL.055 (e) regulation - ICAO and IFR English.