The Civil Aviation Safety Authority of Australia (CASA) has promulgated two different English language proficiency standards for flight crew, namely, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation language proficiency standards for operational flight crew and the CASA general English language standards for student pilots.
ICAO language proficiency standard for operational flight crew (ELP)
ICAO has directed its member states, including Australia, to assess and certify that all operational flight crews (and air traffic controllers) are competent in radiotelephony communications as well as proficient in the language used in aviation including ICAO approved phraseologies. Hence it is about aviation language.
This ICAO language proficiency standard became effective on 05 March 2008. CASA has fully implemented the ICAO standards to enhance safety in flight operations.
The aviation language used in Australia is aviation English; aviation English is also the standard international aviation language. Therefore the language used by CASA to assess flight crew aviation language proficiency is aviation English.
In Australia, the ICAO required aviation English language proficiency is commonly known as or referred to by the abbreviation ELP.
ELP is a mandatory prerequisite for the issue of an operational licence, namely, the Private Pilot Licence (PPL), Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL), Air Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL) and Flight Engineer Licence (FEL).
CASA general English language proficiency standard for student pilots (GELP)
CASA has promulgated an Australian standard on general (or everyday) English language proficiency for student pilots undertaking flying training in Australian airspace.
The standard is commonly known as or referred to by the abbreviation GELP.
GELP is a mandatory prerequisite for the issue of a student pilot licence (SPL).
Important note: As ELP and GELP are different, an achievement in one standard cannot be used as a substitute to satisfy the other standard.
General English test criteria
CASA sets a minimum standard of general English language proficiency for applicants of the Student Pilot Licence (SPL).
The aim of requiring student-pilots to have a minimum proficiency to communicate orally in general English is two-fold, to enable the SPL holder to safely conduct flying training operations as well as have a practical prospect of attaining the required minimum ICAO language proficiency standards by the time the training is completed.
The requirement for SPL applicants to produce documentary evidence of general English language proficiency came into force with effect from 1 January 2009.
If SPL applicants are unable to demonstrate they have been schooled in English or employed for a defined period in a specified English speaking country, they must have their English proficiency proven through a general English language test acceptable to CASA, and to the required minimum standard.
CASA has nominated IELTS or TOEFL or TOEIC as the acceptable general English language test. These international general English tests are delivered by commercial companies which are completely independent of CASA.
Some authorities in English speaking countries rely on a pass in one of these tests as admission requirement for non-native English speakers to their colleges and universities, or for those applying to migrate, etc. Therefore applicants should not assume the company administering these tests would automatically know they require a pass to satisfy CASA language criterion for issue of a SPL.
For example, as in the case of TOEIC, SPL applicants should note that the required test to meet the CASA SPL criterion would consists of two separate sittings with the associated fees, one for Listening & Reading and another for Speaking & Writing.
The applicants are personally responsible for informing the test centres exactly what test or tests they wish to take.
Additionally, like all exam sittings, prior arrangements would be essential as there is considerable demand for such general English language testing. CASA advises candidates to lodge their applications as early as possible.
CASA requires the minimum scores for the respective English language tests for the issue of a SPL:
|Test type||Minimum score|
|International English Language Testing System (IELTS) General or Academic training module||Overall grade of 5.5 with no paper lower than 5|
|Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC-Secure Program/Public Testing Centre)||(a) listening – 350;|
(b) reading – 300;
(c) speaking – 160;
(d) writing – 140
|Test of English as a Foreign Language internet based test (TOEFL IBT)||71|
|Test of English as a Foreign Language computer based test (TOEFL CBT)||197|
|Test of English as a Foreign Language paper based test (TOEFL PB)||530|
Validity of general English language test when applying for SPL
The test taken by applicant shall not be older than 2 years on date of application for the SPL.