ICAO Rule Requiring Proof Of English Proficiency Not Likely To Be Enforced


U.S. pilots who fly internationally are being asked to hurry up and apply for replacement airman certificates that state they are English proficient, according to an International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) rule that takes effect on March 5. But a source at the FAAs General Aviation and Commercial Division (AFS-800) told AVweb yesterday that the requirement is not likely to be widely enforced, as most countries are not prepared to comply.

A Feb. 13 letter posted on the FAAs Information for Operators (InFO) Web site reminds operators of the new ICAO licensing standards, which are part of a broader ICAO effort to ensure that all pilots and air traffic controllers are English proficient.

The FAA is not requiring pilots who fly domestically to update their certificates, since 14 CFR Part 61 already requires pilots to be able to read, speak, write and understand the English language. Lance Nuckolls, who has been handling the ICAO issue within AFS-800, said that pilots who are taking trips internationally should check with the destination country to see if the new certificate will be required. While the FAA has done its part to comply with the ICAO standard by the March 5 deadline, other countries can apply for an extension that would effectively waive the requirement until 2011. But for pilots who are worried about the possibility of a foreign ramp check in the next few weeks, Nuckolls said that the FAA Airman Certification Branch is processing the new certificate requests in as little as five days.