|FLIGHT SAFETY (FLS) SECTION
THE FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs) COVER THE FOLLOWING TOPICS:
Last updated on: 18/10/2006
Questions on licences issued by a State
ICAO is not in a position to provide information on the Personnel Licensing regulations, practices and procedures of individual Contracting States. Such questions should be directed to the Civil Aviation Authority of that State. See the links to Civil Aviation Authorities for contact information.
Where do I find the ICAO personnel licensing Standards?
The international Standards on Personnel Licensing are contained in Annex 1 – Personnel Licensing to the Convention on International Civil Aviation. Annex 1 can be purchased on-line and at certain locations. Annex 1 can be accessed on-line by subscription.
Applicability of new personnel licensing Standards
New Standards and Recommended Practices of Annex 1 – Personnel Licensing, are applicable to applicants for licences and ratings. They are also applicable to existing licence holders five years after they are adopted by Council.
Definition of a Standard and a Recommended Practice
For more information, please refer to Annex 1, FOREWORD
Aviation activities requiring a licence
ICAO has developed international licensing Standards for the following aviation activities:
Flight crew licences:
Annex 1 also provides for a series of ratings (class, type, instrument and instructor) that complement the flight crew licences.
International licensing Standards for the following additional aviation activities will become applicable on 23 November 2006:
Licences for Personnel other than Flight Crew Members:
Annex 1, Chapter 4, also includes requirements for the following licences for personnel other than flight crew members:
(1) The aeronautical station operator licence is intended for personnel in charge of communications between aircraft and air traffic controller in oceanic area where HF radio communications are used.
International recognition of flight crew licences
The Convention on International Civil Aviation, often called the Chicago Convention, provides for worldwide recognition of flight crew licences issued by any member State of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) provided that:
If the licence is to be used on an aircraft which is not registered in the issuing State, the licence holder must obtain a validation of the licence from the State of Registry or alternatively obtain a new licence issued by the State of Registry.
ICAO licence or international licence
ICAO does not issue any licences. Licences issued by ICAO Contracting States on the basis of Standards and Recommended Practices of Annex 1 – Personnel Licensing, are habitually called ICAO licences. This has led many to believe that there is a specific ICAO or international licence. The fact is that there is not one single international licence issued by ICAO or any other organization. States issue their own licences based on national regulations in conformity with Annex 1 specifications and validate licences issued by other Contracting States on the basis of bilateral or multilateral agreements or the fulfilment of nationally legislated requirements.
For more information, please refer to Annex 1, Chapter 1, paragraph 1.2.2.
Use of flight crew licences on foreign-registered aircraft
Any pilot who wishes to fly on an aircraft registered in a State other than the one that has issued the licence, needs to obtain an authorization from the State of Registry. This authorization is generally given by the State of Registry through a validation or a conversion of the foreign licence. In general, the validation process is used for short-term authorization while the conversion process is used for longer-term authorization.
Validation of a foreign licence
Conversion of a foreign licence
Differences between validation and conversion of licences
The main differences are illustrated in the following table:
How to obtain a validation or a conversion?
For more information on validation of a foreign licence, please refer to Annex 1, Chapter 1, paragraph 1.2.2.
Does my licence meet ICAO requirements?
Some States include a statement on the licence specifying that the licence meets the requirement of ICAO Annex 1 to the Chicago Convention. When it is not the case, licence holders may verify with the Civil Aviation Authorities in their respective States whether their licence is in compliance with ICAO requirements. Each individual Contracting State should have the information available as they have the duty to inform ICAO of any difference between ICAO licensing Standards and their national/regional regulations. Any information in this matter submitted by Contracting States to ICAO is contained on the Supplement to Annex 1.
Non-ICAO compliant licence
1. An endorsement with a «Licence does not meet ICAO requirements» statement may appear on a licence in two different situations:
2. Licences that do not meet ICAO requirements are not recognized internationally and are therefore valid only in the airspace of the State that has issued such a licence. The use of the licence in other States is only possible if the State whose airspace is used, has authorized it.
For more information, please refer to Annex 1, Chapter 1, paragraphs 1.2 and 1.2.5 and the FAQ on «International recognition of flight crew licences».
In which languages does a licence holder need to demonstrate proficiency?
Amendment 164 to Annex 1 has introduced strengthened language proficiency requirements for flight crew members and air traffic controllers. The language proficiency requirements apply to any language used for radiotelephony communications in international operations. Therefore, pilots on international flights shall demonstrate language proficiency in either English or the language used by the station on the ground. Controllers working on stations serving designated airports and routes used by international air services shall demonstrate language proficiency in English as well as in any other language(s) used by the station on the ground.
For more information, please refer to Annex 1, Chapter 1, paragraph 1.2.9 and Attachment to Annex 1, and also to Annex 10, Volume II, Chapter 5. Please, also refer to the FAQ «Guidance on the evaluation of language proficiency».
Are all members of the flight crew required to meet the language proficiency requirements?
All pilots shall meet the language proficiency requirements when they fly internationally. The provisions contained in Annex 10 (Chapter 5, former paragraphs 188.8.131.52.3 and 184.108.40.206.4), which allowed the use of interpreters, have been withdrawn.
Guidance on the evaluation of language proficiency
The following paragraphs provide guidance on the evaluation of language proficiency. More detailed guidance can be found in the «Manual on the Implementation of the ICAO Language Proficiency Requirements – Doc 9835-AN/453″ that is now available in English and that can be purchased on-line. The Arabic, Chinese, French, Spanish and Russian versions will become progressively available. This manual addresses the various training and evaluation issues related to the implementation of the ICAO language proficiency Standards. A table of contents of the manual is available here.
Why is it important to initiate evaluation of language proficiency rapidly?
While the formal evaluation of language proficiency is only required as of 5 March 2008, there are good reasons to start formal evaluation of language proficiency much earlier:
What should be the scope and depth of the evaluation?
The scope of the evaluation is the «speaking and listening ability» which is specified in Annex 1 for pilots and air traffic controllers. The depth of the evaluation is defined by the Holistic Descriptors and the Standards for Operational Level 4.
Proficient speakers shall:
For more information, please refer to the Appendix of Annex 1.
ICAO Rating Scale for Operational Level 4
A speaker will be rated at Operational Level 4 if the following criteria are met:
For information on the complete ICAO language proficiency rating scale, please refer to the Attachment to Annex 1.
Do native speakers need to be evaluated and how?
Native speakers need to be evaluated. However, in this case, it is possible to use a process similar to that which is routinely used today to ensure that applicants do not have a speech impediment that would affect their capacity to operate safely. This assessment can also be extended to non-native language assessment at the highest or Expert level. This is because native speakers can easily identify other speakers with native and/or Expert language proficiency through fluent and natural use of the language. Similarly, completely inadequate proficiency is also relatively easy to identify.
In practice, language proficiency assessment for native and/or Expert speakers can consist of an interview with a representative from the Licensing Authority such as a flight examiner. If a problem is noticed (speech impediment or inappropriately strong regional accent) during such an interview, the applicant should be referred to a specialist for follow-through.
What is the best evaluation method?
In any large scale-testing situation, it is accepted that the best practice is to permit a number of test/assessment options. For non-native language assessment, formal evaluation can currently include any of the following:
The format of the formal assessment will be determined by the State, but the «Manual on the Implementation of the ICAO Language Proficiency Requirements – Doc 9835-AN/453″ provides specific suggestions on how States can assess the suitability and reliability of testing solutions that would be proposed by the industry.
Are there any tests already available?
Efforts to develop appropriate and commercially available aviation-specific testing instruments are underway and aviation-specific test options are already available and more will become available in the near future.
Most of the commercially available English knowledge tests such as TOEFL are not appropriate for the purpose of testing English competency for pilots and air traffic controllers. The main reason is that those tests have not been designed for testing the «speaking and listening ability» required by Annex 1. Some oral proficiency tests are available but they are generally designed for a context (e.g. business) that is not that of civil aviation and are therefore not fully satisfactory.
Generally speaking, the evaluation of the speaking and/or listening skills requires face-to-face contact between tester and test-taker, or semi-direct contact, through recorded speaking prompts and recorded responses that are analyzed later by the tester. Other testing methods and in particular those using only «pen and paper» tests or their computerized versions are not appropriate.
What are the applicability dates of the Standards on language proficiency?
Amendment 164 to Annex 1 on language proficiency became applicable on 27 November 2003. However, the application of Article 42 of the Convention on International Civil Aviation and the fact that some elements of the amendment have a deferred applicability date is creating a progressive application of the Standards which is summarized below:
Air traffic controllers
Aeroplane and helicopter pilots
Holders of other personnel licences
Aeronautical station operators: Same as for air traffic controllers.
Flight navigators: Need to demonstrate the ability to speak and understand the language used for radiotelephony communications if the flight navigator is required to use the radiotelephone aboard an aircraft. They will not be required to comply with the holistic descriptors and rating scale after 5 March 2008.
Glider and free balloon pilots and flight engineers: There is no language proficiency Standard applicable to these categories of personnel. However, Annex 1, Chapter 1, paragraph 220.127.116.11 contains a Recommendation that reads: «Flight engineers, glider and free balloon pilots should have the ability to speak and understand the language used for radiotelephony communications.».
In what intervals shall language proficiency be demonstrated?
The ICAO Standards on language proficiency require that aeroplane and helicopter pilots, air traffic controllers and aeronautical station operators who demonstrate proficiency below the Expert Level (Level 6) shall be formally evaluated at intervals in accordance with an individual’s demonstrated proficiency level. The interval will have to be established by each Civil Aviation Authority. ICAO is recommending an interval of six years for those at the Extended Level (Level 5) and three years for those at the Operational Level (Level 4).
Does ICAO approve or accredit language learning or testing centres?
Currently ICAO does not accredit, certify or endorse any language training or testing centre. The organization is developing test criteria and competency standards for personnel involved in the testing process.
Does ICAO have speech samples that illustrate the various proficiency levels?
ICAO has prepared a CD that contains speech samples rated at ICAO Language Proficiency Levels 3, 4 and 5. Each of the speech samples is accompanied by a detailed rating form that contains the underlying rationale for the rating. In addition, the CD contains information on the ICAO Language Proficiency Rating Scale and on language proficiency testing.
This CD is of interest to Civil Aviation Authorities, air navigation service providers, training institutions, airlines, and institutions imparting aviation English courses and conducting language proficiency tests. The CD can be purchased directly online from ICAO (Order No. AUD001) through the Document Sales Unit.
Amendments to the Audio CD-ROM
Could a language proficiency test contain radiotelephony and technical questions?
Because of the high stakes involved, pilots and air traffic controllers deserve to be tested in a context similar to that in which they work and test content should therefore be relevant to their roles in the work-place. The descriptors for Vocabulary and Comprehension for ICAO Operational Level 4 refer to «work-related topics». Tests should provide test-takers with sufficient and varied opportunities to use plain language in aviation work-related contexts in order to demonstrate their ability with respect to each descriptor in the Language Proficiency Rating Scale and the Holistic Descriptors. To achieve this, the design of tests should be undertaken by a team of linguistic and operational subject matter experts to ensure validity, reliability and operational relevance.
The Note found in the Appendix to Annex 1 indicates that the Holistic Descriptors and Rating Scale apply to the use of phraseology as well as plain language. Just as testing of ICAO phraseology cannot be used to assess plain language proficiency, neither can English language proficiency tests be used to test ICAO standardized phraseology.
It is acceptable that a test contain a scripted test task in which phraseology is included in a prompt. The test task may be used as a warm up or an ice-breaker and elicit a plain language response from the test taker. Test prompts should not be intended to evaluate specific technical knowledge concerning operations. For example, prompts such as «What is the separation minima for aircraft being vectored for an ILS approach?», or «Describe the different flight modes of the A320 flight control system» are not acceptable.
Age limit for flight crew
Amendment 167 to Annex 1
The ICAO Council adopted on 10 March 2006 an amendment to Annex 1 — Personnel Licensing that increases by five years the upper age limit for commercial pilots operating two-pilot aircraft, subject to conditions. The new provisions become applicable on 23 November 2006 and read as follows:
1) Pilot-in-Command aged 60-64 years of age
In accordance with Article 33 of the Convention on International Civil Aviation, the amendment means that if a pilot-in-command (PIC) is 60 years of age or over but less than 65 years of age and is engaged in operations with more than one pilot, he/she cannot be prevented by reason of age from operating in airports or the airspace of any ICAO Contracting State as long as at least one other pilot is under 60 years of age. For single-pilot commercial air transport operations, the upper age limit remains at 60 years. A State may impose a lower maximum age limit than that specified by ICAO in 18.104.22.168 for the licenses it issues but it cannot prevent, by reason of age, an aircraft from another State operated by a PIC holding a licence issued or validated by that State, who is below the ICAO upper age limit, from operating in the airspace above its territory.
2) Pilot-in-Command 65 years of age and over
Articles 39 and 40 of the Convention are also relevant to the age limit of pilots-in-command engaged in commercial air transport operations as they authorize international flights by flight crew who do not meet all international licensing Standards, provided that an authorization is given by each State into which the aircraft is operated. Those seeking information concerning States that may authorize pilots to fly in their airspace after reaching the age of 65 years are advised to contact individual Civil Aviation Authorities
3) Augmented crews
In commercial long-range air transport, the designated flight crew may be augmented, and can number three, four or even more pilots. In the case of flight crew comprising more than two pilots, the intent of 22.214.171.124 is to ensure that, when the pilot-in-command is over 60 but less than 65 years of age, the operating flight crew includes at least one other pilot, who is licensed, appropriately rated for all phases of flight, current, and younger than 60 years of age. It is suggested that during high workload phases of flight (such as flight below 10,000 feet above ground level) at least one pilot seated at the controls should be under 60 years of age.
4) Medical Assessment
When over 60, a six-monthly medical assessment is necessary (ICAO specifies an annual medical assessment for those under 60 years who are engaged in two-pilot operations).
Multi-Crew Pilot Licence (MPL)
What is the MPL?
The MPL allows a pilot to exercise the privileges of a co-pilot in a commercial air transportation on multi-crew aeroplanes. It provides the aviation community with an opportunity to train pilots directly for co-pilot duties. It is a new licence that has been introduced in addition to the existing pilot licences defined in Annex 1 — Personnel Licensing.
The licence focuses on ab initio airline pilot training. MPL training and assessment will be competency-based and involve a multi-crew environment and threat and error management from the onset. It provides for greater use of flight simulation training devices and include mandatory upset training. At this stage, only aeroplanes are considered for this new licence. The details of the requirements for the licence are contained in Annex 1 — Personnel Licensing and in the Procedures for Air Navigation Services — Training (PANS-TRG). These documents outline the minimum international Standard for the implementation of the MPL by any State; they can be purchased directly from ICAO through the Document Sales Unit.
Will the MPL be recognized by Contracting States?
As a licence defined by ICAO the MPL will be recognized by all ICAO Contracting States even by those that may decide not to establish an MPL as a licence within their own States. More details on the recognition of licences by other States can be found on the FAQ on «International recognition of flight crew licences».
What is a multi-crew aeroplane?
It is an aeroplane that requires a flight crew of at least two pilots. One of them is the pilot-in-command (the captain) and the other is the co-pilot (or first officer). All jet air transport aeroplanes and the vast majority of turbine powered air transport aircraft and business jet are multi-crew aeroplanes. The definition in Annex 1 — Personnel Licensing states that it is: «an aircraft required to be operated with a co-pilot as specified in the flight manual or by the air operator certificate.»
Do I have to hold a MPL to be a co-pilot on a muti-crew aeroplane?
No, the co-pilot on a multi-crew aeroplane can hold either a MPL or a CPL endorsed with an instrument rating and a type rating on a multi-crew aircraft.
What are the differences between the CPL and the MPL?
For the purposes of operating multi-crew aircraft, the privileges of a MPL are equivalent to those of CPL endorsed with an instrument rating and a type rating on a multi-crew aircraft. However, and because the MPL is geared toward operation of multi-crew airplane, an MPL pilot cannot generally fly on single pilot aeroplane without meeting additional requirements. For example, MPL holders cannot exercise the privileges of a CPL and instrument ratings on single pilot aeroplane without meeting specific actual flight time and flight instruction requirements.
A number of MPL courses may be a modification of the current JAA frozen ATPL or the Transport Canada and FAA CPL/Multi-engine training, but it is expected that the majority will follow the guidance proposed in the Procedures for Air Navigation Services — Training (PANS-TRG) document.
What are the minimum flight hours required for the MPL?
The ICAO Standard for the MPL specifies 240 hours as the minimum number of actual and simulated flight hours performing the functions of the pilot flying and the pilot non-flying. However, the Standard does not specify the breakdown between actual and simulated flight hours and thus allow part of the training curriculum that was traditionally conducted on aeroplane to be done on flight simulation training devices (FSTDs). However, there is a requirement that the applicant meets all the actual flying time for a private pilot licence plus additional actual flying time in instrument, night flying and upset recovery.
Why was the MPL established?
The MPL was established to respond to the growing demand in the aviation training community that felt that the current regulatory regime that dictated a large number of flying hours in solo and on a smaller aircraft was not the most efficient and safe way to train pilots for copilot duties on jet transport aircraft.
Further, there was some perceived negative training in the apprenticeship model that was first developed for flight training in the post second world war era. A number of training organizations and airlines were adamant that modern training techniques and research into the use of modern training devices such as flight simulation training devices needed to be recognized within the ICAO licensing structure. The ICAO Air Navigation Commission formed a Flight Crew Licensing and Training Panel to explore the options and opportunities to address the shortcomings of some current licensing requirements. The competency-based concept and the MPL licence were the outcome of that panel’s deliberations.
How can the MPL be implemented?
ICAO has developed the Procedures for Air Navigation Services — Training (PANS-TRG) document to support the implementation of the MPL and will monitor developments in this area through a proof of concept programme. This programme will involve stakeholders from regulatory bodies and industry. In addition, an Air Training Organization must meet the prescribed organizational standards which are also outlined in Annex 1 — Personnel Licensing and the Procedures for Air Navigation Services — Training (PANS-TRG).
What is the status of the MPL regulatory provisions?
The ICAO Council adopted the provisions related to the MPL as part of Amendment 167 to Annex 1 — Personnel Licensing on 10 March 2006. The new provisions will become applicable on 23 November 2006.
Is my AME licence an ICAO Type II licence?
The Type I and Type II Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (AME) licences have been superseded by a single AME licence since November 1998 (see Annex 1, Chapter 4, paragraph 4.2).
Does ICAO approve training organizations or training programmes?
ICAO does not endorse, recognize or approve training organizations or training programmes. The only exception to that rule is the Regional Training Centres delivering the ICAO Aviation Security Training Programme and ICAO Government Safety Inspectors Training Programme.