ICAO English

ICAO English established by ICAO ▪️ EASA English established by EASA


ICAO English exam is evaluated by two examiners. It is rated as ICAO Level


ICAO English exam is evaluated by two examiners. It is rated as ICAO Level


ICAO English validity ▪️ depends on ICAO Level


ICAO English validity ▪️ depends on ICAO Level

By attending the language proficiency exam in Aero Language, you will receive language certificate issued in accordance with both - ICAO English and EASA English regulatory standards.

ICAO English assessment

ICAO English assessment will be led by a language proficiency examiner. Aero Language provides ICAO English exam for all aviation specialists including pilots, air traffic controllers and other professions. In compliance with ICAO requirements the ICAO English exam is divided into a number of sections. It takes approximately 25 to 30 minutes to complete the language assessment. The ICAO English exam consists of following sections:

  • Interview
  • Visual analysis
  • Communication with ATC (Simulation)
  • Audio analysis (listening ATC)
  • Video analysis (watching the movie)

ICAO English or EASA English

Language proficiency for pilots is commonly known as ICAO English. Since March 5th 2008, every pilot or flight crew member coming in touch with international aviation communication must hold language proficiency qualification in compliance with ICAO regulations. That's why it is so-called ICAO English. In addition, Commission Regulation No 1178/2011 Part FCL - FCL.055 requires the EASA license holders to attend language proficiency assessment on similar basis like ICAO English. That's why we call it EASA English or FCL.055.

Because ICAO came with the language proficiency standards back in 2008, around 3 years prior EASA - pilots are using ICAO English as a common name for both regulatory basis - EASA FCL.055 and ICAO Doc 9835. Any of them however refer to language proficiency qualification of pilots or air traffic controllers.

ICAO English evaluation

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ICAO English exam is evaluated in accordance with language proficiency rating scale. Outcome of your language proficiency is number 1 thru 6.

ICAO English Exam and Rating Process

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Aero Language is using multi-level rating concept for all ICAO English exams.

First language assessment is done by a language proficiency examiner during the ICAO exam.

Second rating is done by language proficiency rater using the distance-rating method.

If those two Aero Language staff members do not match with their final level given our Aero Language ADMIN system detects the unconformity. The Senior Language proficiency exmainer is involved into the process to decide on final score. The Senior Language examiner is also involved in case if you decide to appeal the final score.

ICAO English descriptors

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ICAO English exam is evaluated in accordance with language proficiency rating scale. Outcome of your language proficiency is number 1 thru 6. The lowest value is the final outcome - so-called ICAO English level

Language descriptors - this is what you have to be sharp in to get the best ICAO Level.

  • pronunciation
  • grammatical and sentence structures
  • vocabulary
  • spoken fluency
  • message comprehension
  • interaction

ICAO English validity

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The validity of ICAO English qualification depends on your current language skills. Your skills are reflected in so-called ICAO English Levels.

To harmonize ICAO language proficiency requirements with the EASA ones, the system of Levels has been established by both regulatory standards. 

  • English LEVEL 4 - 3 years ICAO / 4 years EASA
  • English LEVEL 5 - 6 years both  ICAO and EASA
  • English LEVEL 6 - valid permanently

ICAO English Level
ICAO English Level 4 ✓ Operational level

ICAO English level 4 is the minimum for operational use ♥. That why it is so-called Operational level. English Level 4 is absolute minimum.
⚠️ ICAO English Level 4 in General ⚠️ 

ICAO English Level 4 is so-called Operational level of Aviation English. It is a minimum proficiency to be demonstrated for operational use. Some airlines however might have higher minimum standards. So even though your ICAO English level 4 is from regulatory point of view sufficient to operate as a pilot, it might not be the case from the operator's perspective. Let's break down the meaning of ICAO English Level 4.

ICAO English Level 4 ✅ Pronunciation

We do not expect your Pronunciation to be perfect. Language examiner will spot almost instantly that English is not your first language nor the mother tongue. The most common ICAO English Level 4 Pronunciation sign is the strong local accent. This is reflected in English depending on your mother tongue. For example - German speakers have specific pronunciation of "th". Great example of ICAO English Level 4 Pronunciation is a word "think" pronounced as "sink". Besides that the content of your message is easily comprehensible from the context.

ICAO English Level 4 ✅ Sentence structure

Sentence structure of ICAO English Level 4 holder clearly expresses the intended content of your message. You can express time using various tenses. ICAO English Level 4 syntax is not flawless, but you can easily tell the difference between the past and the present, you can use plurals, and use various prepositions. ICAO English Level 4 holder can tell the difference between "a" and "an". In case of more complex conversation, you generally leave it to others or you avoid constructing some more complex sentences.

ICAO English Level 4 ✅ Spoken fluency

It does not take long to find the right words to describe a situation or answer a question for ICAO English Level 4 fluency. It might take you a bit longer in some cases, but that does not mean serious problems.

ICAO English Level 4 ✅ Vocabulary

Vocabulary extends with your flying experience. What we consider important for ICAO English Level 4 holder is your vocabulary to be adequate to your flying experience. It is also important that you are able to communicate with other pilots and ATCs using your vocabulary. Regarding conversations about different topics, you can express yourself using your own words, describing or paraphrasing essentials of various topics.

ICAO English Level 4 ✅ Message comprehension

We expect a bit more than just an aviation phraseology and its correct use. To acquire ICAO English Level 4, you also need to be able to use simple language, not only the standard aviation phraseology. You need to comprehend various situations. It is possible you will not understand immediately, but after repeating the message, you will understand the content of the message, or at least the context. You are not afraid to use "say again" phrase.

ICAO English Level 4 ✅ Interaction

ICAO English Level 4 holder is not afraid to speak. If you do not understand, you do not remain silent, but ask for clarification or use the magic aviators' phrase "say again"..

ICAO English Level 5 ✓ Fairly OK, not an expert

ICAO English level 5 is an Extended levelLevel 5 is usually required by most of the airlines as the minimum level of aviation English 
⚠️ ICAO English Level 5 in General ⚠️ 

ICAO Level 5 is so-called Advanced ICAO level and is considered to be something between the basic Operational level and Expert level. Most Exam candidates whose native tongue is not English are usually not able to acquire ICAO English Level 6 directly. However, if they possess language knowledge and abilities above Level 4, they often get LEVEL 5.

ICAO English Level 5 ✅ Pronunciation

Your pronunciation as ICAO English Level 5 holder goes without thinking and is more or less correct. Native English speakers can say that English is not your first language, however your command of English is without substantial mistakes. Simply put - your English is very good, the only drawback being your accent.

ICAO English Level 5 ✅ Sentence structure

You might not always be successful constructing complicated sentence structures but you do try to. Level 5 holder's knowledge of grammar is exceptional and you use it without hesitation.

ICAO English Level 5 ✅ Spoken fluency

You speak fluently and on point. It does not take you long to find right answer to question. You react swiftly - without making long pauses to think. Speech of ICAO English Level 5 holder is very fluent and straight-forward.

ICAO English Level 5 ✅ Vocabulary

You can easily find the right words for the right situations. The extent of your vocabulary compared to your flying experience is exceptional. Holders of ICAO English Level 5 holders are sometimes even using idioms or expressions typical for English slang. However you are not able to use idiomatic speech all the time. As a ICAO English Level 5 holder you might find it difficult to talk about issues you have not heard before, e.g. some non-aviation topics.

ICAO English Level 5 ✅ Message comprehension

You find it easy to comprehend messages when you know what to expect. But you can comprehend much more than just messages in a familiar context. In fact, most of the ICAO English Level 5 holders have no problems with understanding even in new situations. You understand English radio broadcast and aviation English radio communication without hesitations.

ICAO English Level 5 ✅ Interaction

In case of misunderstanding, holders of ICAO English Level 5 can manage much more than just "say again" phrase. You are not afraid to actively inquire and ask for clarifications. You try to make messages clear and communicate comprehensibly. You can start and maintain meaningful dialogue.

ICAO English Level 6 ✓ you are an expert

ICAO English level 6 is an Expert level. There is nothing more to get :-) If you would like to get your ICAO English Level 6, the Idiomatic speech is something you should look for.
⚠️ ICAO English Level 6 in General ⚠️ 

ICAO Level 6 is so-called Expert ICAO level and is considered to be the highest level you can get when it comes to the ICAO language proficiency exam. People use to say, that you are a Native English speaker. However this is not entirely true. Due to the strict requirements and applicants' frequent use of non-standard pronunciation, even native speakers do not always receive ICAO English Level 6 language proficiency.

Apart from a complex scope of vocabulary, a requirement for ICAO English Level 6 proficiency is also an excellent command of grammar and pronunciation. Hundreds, not even thousands of flight hours will not guarantee ICAO English Level 6.

ICAO English Level 6 ✅ Pronunciation

Your pronunciation as ICAO Level 6 holder is almost flawless. There might be some negligible differences between pronunciation of native speakers and that of yours. However, nothing causing any confusion.

ICAO English Level 6 ✅ Sentence structure

You have perfect command of the most advanced grammar. Even the most complex sentences are mistake-free or almost mistake-free and used often.

ICAO English Level 6 ✅ Spoken fluency

Your fluency is natural and swift. Performance and spoken fluency of ICAO English Level 6 holder is very natural. You are using and understanding idiomatic speech quite often. 

Anytime you speak English, your speech is complex and fluent. You use various prosodic features to modify the speech. You use changes in intonation, tone, stress, and rhythm to establish a substantial level of communication.

ICAO English Level 6 ✅ Vocabulary

Level 6 holders can talk about any topic - or almost any topic - whether you are familiar with it or not. You use idioms and idiomatic speech in your normal daily speech. Apart from the knowledge of words, idioms, or synonyms, you use them in right contexts.

ICAO English Level 6 ✅ Message comprehension

You understand everything. Not just guessing from context. If you understand English lyrics, cartoons, or non-standard expressions, you might have good predispositions for ICAO English Level 6 proficiency.

ICAO English Level 6 ✅ Interaction

Your interaction in all situations is natural and simple. You regularly use verbal and non-verbal expressions.

Sample Test

ICAO English test papers are generated directly by the Aero Language ADMIN system. You can find the demo paper, so you can have at least rough idea what to expect. Our Language proficiency examiner will smoothnly guide you thru the ICAO English exam.

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ICAO English Assessments

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