Aviation English is a formal language

Aviation English is a special type of communication language that pilots use while flying an aircraft. This special use of English is important for safe and efficient operation of the aircraft in an airspace regardless of aircraft category. 

There are only minor differences when it comes to the use of  Aviation English  by pilots of airplanes, helicopters, gliders or balloons. This uniform form of communication is crucial for safe flight operations as it reduces the risk of misunderstandings and communication errors.

Aviation language aka ICAO English

Aviation English and its well-known synonym ICAO English serves as a global communication framework not only between pilots and area control centers, but also the airport staff and operational personnel.

Language testing of pilots and air traffic controllers in  Aviation English is essential to ensure the safety and efficiency of the operation.  

Such language proficiency tests  commonly known as  ICAO English exam  can be conducted in different ways based on the national procedures of the country. However the written tests - examining the knowledge of grammar and vocabulary is not an emphasis during the  language proficiency assessment .

Pilots and air traffic controllers are usually exposed to simulated real-life situations where they must demonstrate their ability to communicate in English about aviation-related irregularities, emergencies and abnormal encounters. Practical tests of standard phraseology is not the main emphasis of ICAO English exam either. The standard phraseology in real environment is usually being tested as a part of the licence proficiency checkoperator proficiency check or a line check.

Language proficiency testing is the key

Testing of the Aviation English are a critical element of operational safety around the world. ICAO English exams are designed to ensure that pilots and safety-critical personnel are able to communicate effectively in English, the international language of aviation communication.

ICAO English testing enhances the safety

In today's globalized aviation industry, it is important that pilots understand and are able to communicate in English as they are  working with crews and control centers from different countries speaking with different dialects and accents. This ensures a common language for aviation communication and reduces the risk of misunderstandings that could lead to incidents or even tragic accidents.

Language proficiency testing of pilots in aviation English is a key process that verifies their ability to use the English language correctly in flight and ensures that the safety of air operations is paramount. Such tests are mandatory for all pilots wishing to obtain a flight crew licence and to operate intenrnationall.y

The Aviation English for Pilots, also known as ICAO English exam covers several other important aspects.

Communication pilots must demonstrate the ability to communicate in English, which is the international language of aviation communication. This includes the ability to pronounce and interpret words and phrases correctly as required by communication standards.

Basic grammar and aviation-related vocabulary: Pilots must be familiar with the basic grammar and vocabulary of aviation English. Using the technical idioms and phrases is the must while communicating with others. The highest level of communication, so-called ICAO English level 6 requires the iddiomatic speech.

Pilots and air traffic controllers must demonstrate that they understand and use technical terms, aviation-related communication and phrases that are common in aviation communication. They are often tested on their ability to communicate in common aviation situations such as emergencies, management of flight, communication with air traffic services and so on.

Pilots are tested on their ability to communicate in a variety of situations such as normal operations, emergency situations, and flight planing including the flight preparations.

Because aviation situations can be stressful, pilots are often tested on their ability to communicate even under these challenging conditions. Thus the pilots must be also able to communicate in emergency situations and correctly express the urgency and nature of the problem.

 In addition to oral ICAO English exam, pilots also regularly undergo practical testing in simulator and during line operations to demonstrate their ability to communicate in a realistic aviation environment and to use English language for the aviation-related scenarios.

It is the responsibility of each pilot to develop and to maintain their language skills throughout their career and regularly attend retraining courses if required. The minimum operational level requirements are published by both - an EASA and ICAO and commonly named as ICAO English level 4, so-called Operational level of Aviation English.

Failure to meet ICAO English level 4

Testing pilots and air traffic controllers in aviation English also known as ICAO English is essential to ensure effective and safe  communications between crew and air traffic controllers. Pilots must be confident they are prepared to communicate and use the aviation English in the situations covering all phases of flight including the preflight preparations and emergencies. Similarly like the simulator training and checking, also the ICAO English testing is one of the pillars of the safety around the world in general. Failure to meet the operational level in aviation English, so-called ICAO English level 4 can have serious consequences. A pilot may lose his or her flight crew license , or at best, have to undergo additional training and retake the  ICAO English test . In any case, the failure to meet and maintain the Level 4  of the  language proficiency will result in removal from the operational duties.