As an administrator of an Aviation English teaching programme in the Asia Pacific area I am always interested to hear the views of expat pilots and , indeed, non-native English speaking pilots with regard to what ICAO is trying to do to raise the standards of Radio Telephony English - all in the cause of air safety.
World-wide the responses of the various civil aviation authorities have been variable, with some making genuine efforts to comply with ICAO requirements, others, maybe a small minority , doing very little.
The link between poor English language communicative skills and reduced air safety is patently obvious.
The views of pilots who fly in mixed (multi-national) crews would be very welcome.
When certain countries, via their authorities, allow companies to issue the locals with DVD's of the 300 potential/possible/maybe expected questions or scenarios for information (maybe even rote learning - but surely not??) one has to wonder.
Paperwork boxes ticked - arse covered!!!!
Later an accident, people die, very very very sad - but arse covered.
I have worked with many other nationalities, and as a native English person, with no real accent, can only add the following:
I appreciate the second language complications, and normally speak slower, and use a limited vocabulary and avoid slang, try to keep to one topic at a time.
I have been fortunate to have flown with many Russians, both in the cockpit, and worked them on the ground and in ATC. It would be reasonable to say their level of English was 2-3, my Russian 0-1.
I am now in Middle East, and still use the same approach, speak slowly, and clearly, and listen to the responses.
Several of the level 4 qualified persons I work with should not be level 2. The purpose of the test is to try and ensure that apart from the cockpit English, they can communicate around the aviation environment.
A problem that even level 10 !!!! will not cure is that when problems occur we always think in our base language, and as such are stressed to translate into approved ICAO English.
At the moment I do fly in a mixed nationality flight deck, and the problems are obvious, we have different understanding of primary procedures. He is American and I am English.......
The problem is the same language, but different interpretation.
An Englishman's way of speaking absolutely classifies him, The moment he talks he makes some other Englishman despise him. One common language I'm afraid we'll never get. Oh, why can't the English learn to set A good example to people whose English is painful to your ears? The Scotch and the Irish leave you close to tears. There even are places where English completely disappears. In America, they haven't used it for years!
I just wonder, if the Icao test is the same in all countries. I spoke with many pilots and it seems to me, that there is a huge difference in English abilities, even though they all seem to have Icao level 4. Canada seem to do the testing over the phone, while other countries hire some English proffessors to test pilots. I have even heard of some american guys not passing an Icao level 4 in Europe, because they could not understand an Atis spoken with a heavy accent. Anybody could share a light?
only Chinese, and some Asian countries can not speak one word of English. Recently I spoke to a captain(maybe 65yo), I asked him if he like to fly for his company, he didn't understand my question. He was very embarrassed by my questions, and tried to avoid me. then I asked other questions, same thing.... didn't understand one word of what I was saying.
Then I talked to the young captain(25yo), no problem at all.The young copilot even asked me If I was a pilot and what I was flying.On the intercom, it was the copilot who did the announcements for the arrival.
It was an intern flight, I don't think the Captain was authorized to fly internationally.But I can be wrong.
I'm a level 4 examiner in Germany. The German regulators are TRYING to abide by the ICAO requirments, but unfortunately there IS some cheating going on. People are getting level 6 without being native speakers, etc.
And I have heard that in some countries (Italy, France?) have given their ATPL'ers level 6 automatically without testing! I tend to believe these rumours..... *sigh*
WW1950... I am doing the same thing not too far away from you and we are another state trying to comply with ICAO recommendations.
It is true that not all is wonderful out there in Language proficiency land, but aviation must be the worst industry for rumours. France did not give Level 6 to pilots in English, only a grandfather rights style of endorsement. I am told by a pilot who has a French licence that his LPC test lasted over an hour and he got Level 5, but apparently it depends on which RTF Centre you go to! French pilots were given a Level 6 in French as does the UK to most pilots in English without even employing properly trained and qualified assessors. Italy apparently uses the Mayflower test, so I believe, which is assessed only via the sent recording not face to face, so a little dubious that one too!
Level 6 however is not the hallowed turf of native speakers. Many non-native speakers speak worse than those who have perfected their English as a foreign language. I have heard and assessed many non-English native speakers, so I can vouch for it. An ex colleague of mine back in the UK (english was his first language, although he wasn't British) had such bad pronunciation that we had many complaints about him. Language should be "intelligible to an international community of aviation users". From wherever thou shalt originate!
I am also a UK born and bred, native English speaking Test of English for Aviation Interlocutor / Rater (Examiner/Assessor), employed in the UK.
Firstly, the Mayflower College TEA is NOT assessed only by recording. The initial (and often, only) assessment is usually conducted by the Assessor who submits their rating, together with the recording to Mayflower, who then MAY do a further assessment. Normally, they only check a sample (1 in 10) of assessments for quality control to ensure the Assessor is doing his or her job properly.
The UK CAA does permit CAA Flight Examiners to informally assess Skills Test candidates English language proficiency but can only tick the box to state that they are Level 6 - they cannot assess them at any other level.
ICAO Level 6 descriptors require a high level of fluency. Saying that, I have come across persons who have been informally assessed by UK FE's at Level 6 when those persons were nowhere near Level 6 - on one occasion the person was not even Level 4 (At best a 3 maybe even a 2). I think this problem may have arisen because FE's don't really know what to do if the person is not fluent so the simplest solution is to tick the box.
This may not seem to be a problem......until an accident occurs owing to a lack of understanding. Who is then responsible?
Addtionally, not all native English speakers meet Level 6 requirements. In a previous life, I needed a 'translator' for an apparently English speaking person, whose Northern Irish dialect was so strong I was unable to understand him. In that respect, a previous non-English CFI of mine, also a FE and RTE, had a strong accent when he spoke English which made him difficult to understand. This guy is now signing off other candidates at Level 6.
I don't accept that a tick in the box means that the arse is covered. If the cause of the accident, which cost lives, was found to relate to the responsible person's poor grasp of English and the subsequent enquiry showed he had been signed off at Level 6, then the person signing him off at Level 6 has questions to answer. Further, the relevant Authority has also got problems if their own systems do not ensure that assessors are properly qualified, not granted the power to assess because they are ASSUMED to be able to do so by virtue of the fact that they are a Flight Examiner. The non-aviation authority controlled Courts (sarcastic snipe at the bias of internal aviation authority tribunals) would probably find many cracks (pardon the pun) in the arse covering material.
2 Close... some valid points in the argument here...
"The UK CAA does permit CAA Flight Examiners to informally assess Skills Test candidates English language proficiency but can only tick the box to state that they are Level 6"
How can they do this without proper training and understanding of the ICAO scale that gives specific criteria for Level 6. It's like asking me to renew a class rating on a particular type of aircraft. Well we took off OK, we navigated from A to B and we landed OK. And we are still alive. So you must be OK. I didn't see him forget to call an ATC unit, made an incursion of uncontrolled airspace, read back the pressures wrongly several times, ignored calls from ATC to give his exact position, flew the wrong way up a valley, called short finals at 15 miles........etc etc etc...
We have had the same situation whereby pilots (non-english native with UK and our national licence) have been given Level 6 by the UK CAA and then got huffy when we say...well actually.. you are not level 6 because we are trained to rate you at specific levels and here is the evidence. We have spoken to many pilots who acknowledge the tick box policy of the CAA and this is shoddy to say the least not to say unprofessional AND dangerous.
English native speaking pilots with a national licence where I work are still required to do at least the speaking part of our national test, and then if they are not Level 6, they must do the listening test and be rated accordingly. All our raters (pilots and Controllers) are trained well and thouroughly. Why is it so difficult for some organisations to comprehend this. Again, you wouldn't just complete your 45-hour PPL and jump straight into the left hand seat of an A320.
Incidentally Controllers can only be rated at 5 because we use ELPAC. So English native speaking ATCs can only achieve a 5.