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Language Proficiency Check

ICAO Regulations under EASA Observation for PPL, CPL, and ATPL License Holders


Language proficiency is crucial in the aviation industry, as clear and effective communication is vital for ensuring safety and efficient operations. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has established language proficiency requirements that are observed by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) for various licenses, including Private Pilot License (PPL), Commercial Pilot License (CPL), and Airline Transport Pilot License (ATPL). These requirements apply to both Visual Flight Rules (VFR) and Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) pilots.

ICAO Language Proficiency Requirements

ICAO Language Levels:

ICAO has defined six levels of language proficiency, ranging from Level 1 (Pre-Elementary) to Level 6 (Expert). The minimum level required for pilots and air traffic controllers is Level 4 (Operational).

Validity Period: The validity of the language proficiency endorsement varies depending on the achieved level:

  • Level 4 (Operational): Valid for 4 years
  • Level 5 (Extended): Valid for 6 years
  • Level 6 (Expert): No expiry

Testing Criteria:

  • Pronunciation
  • Structure
  • Vocabulary
  • Fluency
  • Comprehension
  • Interaction

EASA’s Role in Implementing ICAO Language Proficiency Requirements

EASA, as the aviation regulatory body for the European Union, ensures that the ICAO language proficiency requirements are implemented and adhered to within its member states. This includes:

  • Overseeing Assessments: EASA ensures that language proficiency assessments are conducted by authorized organizations and meet ICAO standards.
  • Monitoring Compliance: EASA monitors compliance with ICAO language proficiency requirements among its member states and aviation personnel.
  • Guidance and Support: EASA provides guidance and support to its member states in implementing and maintaining the ICAO language proficiency requirements.

Language Proficiency Check for PPL, CPL, and ATPL License Holders

  • Initial Assessment: All pilots, regardless of their license type (PPL, CPL, or ATPL), must undergo an initial language proficiency assessment to demonstrate their ability to communicate effectively in English or the language used for radiotelephony communications.
  • Recurrent Checks: Depending on the achieved language proficiency level, pilots are required to undergo recurrent checks to maintain their language proficiency endorsement.
  • Recording Language Proficiency: The achieved language proficiency level is recorded on the pilot’s license, indicating that they meet the necessary communication requirements for safe and efficient flight operations.
  • Implications of Non-Compliance: Failure to meet the ICAO language proficiency requirements may result in restrictions on the pilot’s license or suspension of the license until the required proficiency level is achieved.


Language proficiency checks are an essential aspect of ensuring safety and efficient communication in the aviation industry. By adhering to ICAO language proficiency requirements and EASA’s oversight, pilots and air traffic controllers can guarantee clear and effective communication, contributing to safer skies for all.