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All aeroplane, airships, powered lift aircrafts and helicopter pilots, flight navigators and air traffic controllers need to hold valid language proficiency endorsement for radio communication. The UK CAA can only endorse English language proficiency levels on the licences that we issue.

Your language skills will be rated on a scale of 1 to 6 (as defined by ICAO) and you must achieve a minimum of level 4. If you are graded at level 4 or 5 you will need to be retested regularly. If you achieve level 6 you will not need to be retested unless you are an ATCO. You will then have a language proficiency endorsement on your licence, and a validity date. In the UK, you will need to do the retest as follows:

  • Level 4 – every 4 years from the date of assessment
  • Level 5 – every 6 years from the date of assessment
  • Level 6 - for ATCOs every 9 years from the date of assessment

If you are graded below a level 4, you will not be able to get a licence that includes radiotelephony privileges. This also applies to national licences. In the UK, you need to obtain a Flight Radiotelephony Operator’s licence to use radio communications equipment, and to be able to use this you must have a language endorsement on your licence at level 6, or have a valid proficiency if you achieved a level 4 or 5.

Air Traffic Controllers (ATCOs)

Information for gaining and maintaining English language proficiency endorsements for ATCOs are on our ATCO Level 6 ELP endorsements page.

Language proficiency requirements

In order to get the endorsement, you will need to demonstrate that you are able to do the following:

  1. Communicate effectively voice-only and face-to-face
  2. Communicate on common and work-related topics with accuracy and clarity
  3. Use appropriate communicative strategies to exchange messages and to recognise and resolve misunderstandings in a general or work-related context
  4. Be able to use language effectively in a difficult or emergency work-related situation or communication task, that you have not encountered before
  5. Speak in an accent or dialect that can be understood

If you hold and instrument rating (IR) or en route instrument rating (EIR) you must be able to demonstrate your English language proficiency to a level that will allow you to:

  1. understand all the relevant information for all phases of flight, including preparation
  2. use radiotelephony in all phases of flight, including emergencies
  3. communicate with crew members during all phases of flight, including preparation

Language proficiency testing

There are a number of ways you can be tested for your language proficiency level, as follows:

At your radiotelephony test

A UK approved examiner holding a level 6 proficiency in English can assess you during your practical test for the UK FRTOL. If your language level does not meet a level 6 then you will need to go to an expert assessor, such as a CAA approved language school.

At a flight test

UK CAA approved type rating examiners (TREs), flight examiners (FEs) and class rating examiners (CREs) holding level 6 proficiency in English can assess your English language proficiency level as part of a licence proficiency check for renewal or revalidation of a rating or certificate.

If your language level does not meet a level 6 then you will need to go to an expert assessor, such as a CAA approved language school.

Through a language school

You need to make sure the school is approved by the CAA. Details of these organisations are published in Standards Document 31 (pdf)

At a training organisation

A number of approved training organisations (ATOs) will offer language training modules as part of your overall training package, and if approved to do so by the CAA the ATO will be able to assess your language proficiency.

Useful links

All relevant European regulations such as Part- ARO, ORO, CAT, SPA, NCC, NCO, MED are available on the link shown below.

For Flight Crew Regulations please refer to the consolidated version Commission Regulation (EU) No 1178/2011.

For other regulations such as Part-ORO, Part-ORA, please check the Air Operations regulations.

Close Useful links