Aviation English - ICAO language proficiency requirements

International ICAO requirements about the Aviation English testing.

International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) requires aviation personnel to be checked and qualified in language proficiency - aviation English as following:

Language proficiency - ICAO Annex 1, 1.2.9.1

Until 2 November 2022, aeroplane, airship, helicopter and powered-lift pilots, air traffic controllers and aeronautical station operators shall demonstrate the ability to speak and understand the language used for radiotelephony communications to the level specified in the language proficiency requirements in Appendix 1.

As of 3 November 2022, aeroplane, airship, helicopter and powered-lift pilots; aeroplane, airship, glider, rotorcraft, powered-lift or free balloon remote pilots; air traffic controllers; and aeronautical station operators shall demonstrate the ability to speak and understand the language used for radiotelephony communications to the level specified in the language proficiency requirements in Appendix 1.

Language proficiency - ICAO Annex 1, 1.2.9.2 (recommendation)

Flight engineers, and glider and free balloon pilots should have the ability to speak and understand the language used for radiotelephony communications.

What does ICAO language proficiency mean?

The question is as follows: what does it mean to "have the ability to speak and understand the language used for radiotelephony communications?"

The level of ICAO language proficiency according to ICAO is defined by a so-called ICAO Language Proficiency Rating Scale which is an attachment to ICAO Annex 1.

The ICAO Rating Scale makes distinction between 6 different levels of language proficiency - starting from ICAO Level 1 (almost no knowledge) to ICAO Level 6 (Expert). The ICAO Rating Scale defines knowledge which must be proven during the examination process in order to receive given ICAO Level. These ICAO levels are commonly so-called the ICAO English Level, when it comes to the ICAO English language proficiency.

ICAO English does not require any reading or writing

ICAO requires applicants to be able to speak and comprehend the language in communication.

It means that the ICAO language proficiency exam (ICAO English) consists of listening and speaking with comprehension. Text reading or written tasks are not part of ICAO language exam, nor the ICAO English language assessment.