What type of language test do pilots need to complete?

The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has established language proficiency requirements for air traffic controllers and pilots. The intention of the standardised tests is to reduce the frequency of communication errors and establish a universally recognised standard for English language across the globe. 

FTA offers the Test of English for Aviation or T.E.A which meets the ICAO English Language Proficiency Requirements (LPR’s) for licensing purposes.

It is an English Communication test which assesses spoken, and listening ability according to the ICAO Rating Scale. The focus of the test is plain English in an aviation context – it is not a test of aviation phraseology and you do not require operational knowledge.

What does the test entail?

The test will determine your overall level of English in terms of ICAO levels and you will be rated on a scale of 1 to 6 (as defined by ICAO). ICAO level 4 is the minimum level of English required for any licenses. If you are graded at level 4 or 5 you will need to be retested regularly, but if you achieve level 6 (native English speaker) your ICAO level is valid for life. In the UK, the retest requirements are as follows:

  • Level 4 – every 4 years from the date of assessment
  • Level 5 – every 6 years from the date of assessment

If you are graded below a level 4, you will not be able to have a license issued, and you would need to undertake formal English language training before attempting the test again.

Test Structure

Section 1:

Introduction & Experience-related Interview (7 – 8 minutes) Candidates are asked a series of questions on common, and work-related topics specifically related to their aviation experience/licence.

Section 2:

Interactive Comprehension (8-12 minutes) Part 2A: Candidates listen to aviation-specific recordings of non-routine and emergency situations. Candidates are required to explain what they understand about the situation.  Parts 2B &2C: Candidates listen to a series of problem-solving role-play scenarios. In Part 2B, the candidate is required to ask relevant questions to the speaker relating to the recorded situation. In Part 2C, the candidate is required to give advice to the speaker relating to the recorded situation.

Section 3:

Picture Description and Discussion (10 minutes) Candidates describe and compare 2 connected pictures. The task is interactive as specific questions are asked about both pictures. Finally, the examiner leads a discussion of general aviation topics related to the pictures. 

If you elect instead to do an English Language Test elsewhere you will need to double-check that it is CAA approved.Details of these organisations are published in Standards Document 31 (pdf)

Exam cost: £135

For further information and to listen to a sample test, please visit www.tea-test.com 

You can also download this useful, Candidate's Guide to the Test of English for Aviation (T.E.A) here >>

If you have any additional questions, or would like book your test, please get in touch with FTA's admission team: Call 01273 455177 |Email: admin@fta-global.com or complete the booking form below.  

Book an English test for Aviation (T.E.A)