English Not The International Language Of Aviation?


English may be the language of aviation but that shouldn’t be a barrier to getting a private pilot’s certificate in countries that speak other tongues, according to a spokesman for an international pilots group. John Sheehan, secretary general of the International Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, says English should only be a requirement for pilots who intend to fly IFR or in controlled airspace. The International Civil Aviation Organization recently passed an amendment that would make English proficiency a requirement for all pilots, regardless of the type of flying they do. “While this requirement may be justified for those using the IFR ATS system, it is difficult to justify for the casual VFR user,” Sheehan said in a news release announcing IAOPA’s petition against the proposal. IAOPA represents 470,000 pilots in 62 countries (the U.S. accounts for more than 400,000) and has observer status at ICAO. The new language requirement would require pilots to “demonstrate the ability to speak and understand the [English] language used for radiotelephony communications” and will take effect in 2008. Sheehan said the new requirement would put an unnecessary burden on the majority of the world’s one million pilots who want to fly recreationally. “The required proficiency level will prove difficult and costly to both attain and maintain,” Sheehan said.