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Do Pilots Need To Know English?  
User currently offlineSoxfan From United States of America, joined Mar 2008, 869 posts, RR: 0
Posted (4 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 24534 times:

Is English the language used to communicate with ATC regardless of country, or does each country have different requirements? For example, would a Delta pilot flying JFK-TLV need to know Hebrew, or an AA pilot flying to NRT need to know Japanese?


Pilot: "Request push, which way should we face?" JFK Ground: "You better face the front, sir, or you'll scare the pax!"
46 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineTheGMan From United States of America, joined Nov 2008, 684 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (4 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 24522 times:

No. ICAO says that all ATC regardless of country is in english.

User currently offlineBaexecutive From United Kingdom, joined Jul 2005, 757 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (4 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 24510 times:

Hmmm Interesting question.

I would guess they would need to know English as it is the foremost used International language and it would be a logistical nightmare for an airline that flies to several foreign countries to have the relevant native language speaking pilots operating exclusively to certain destinations.


User currently offlineLAXintl From United States of America, joined May 2000, 26022 posts, RR: 50
Reply 3, posted (4 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 24497 times:



Quoting TheGMan (Reply 1):
ICAO says that all ATC regardless of country is in english.

 Confused Since when?

ICAO has several official languages, and if you fly overseas you'll know that ATC is handled in plenty of local languages. Have a listen on liveatc.net just for a small sample.



From the desert to the sea, to all of Southern California
User currently offlineAeroflot001 From Argentina, joined Oct 2009, 410 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (4 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 24462 times:

Any Pilot that plans on flying internationally has to know quite a bit of English that can be understood easily by others. Generally the way it works is that the local language is used within a country and then any pilot which is flying in from abroad will speak English to the controllers on the ground which should have a good knowledge about english.

User currently offlineSoxfan From United States of America, joined Mar 2008, 869 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (4 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 24393 times:



Quoting Aeroflot001 (Reply 4):
Generally the way it works is that the local language is used within a country and then any pilot which is flying in from abroad will speak English to the controllers on the ground which should have a good knowledge about english.

Might there be an issue, say, if a pilot is (hypothetically) reporting an emergency in Portuguese to an ATC in Portugal, which might be valuable information for an English/non-Portuguese-speaking pilot to know? Would the second pilot have to wait for, in essence, a translation from the ATC? This could take time.



Pilot: "Request push, which way should we face?" JFK Ground: "You better face the front, sir, or you'll scare the pax!"
User currently offlineSpeedBirdA380 From United Kingdom, joined Jul 2008, 539 posts, RR: 1
Reply 6, posted (4 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 24362 times:

I generally thought that English was the main universal aviation language and that a general requirement of all international pilots was a good command of the english language.

Quoting Soxfan (Thread starter):
For example, would a Delta pilot flying JFK-TLV need to know Hebrew, or an AA pilot flying to NRT need to know Japanese?

I dont think so.


User currently offlineATCtower From United States of America, joined Dec 2007, 544 posts, RR: 3
Reply 7, posted (4 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 24227 times:

Now this is just an amusing thread open to interpretation.

Do they need to know/speak English? Generally speaking yes.

If you think they all do, I challenge you to listen to ATC in places like Miami. Or listen to the Asian pilots trying to talk with SFO...

The general consensus is that it is to be said in ATC English the first time and then can be repeated in any manner necessary to clarify.

Not trying to be mean here, but English is a very liberal term.

My $.02

[Edited 2010-01-06 18:45:10]


By reading the above post you waive all rights to be offended. If you do not like what you read, forget it.
User currently offlineJkudall From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 615 posts, RR: 1
Reply 8, posted (4 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 24211 times:

Depends. You may be required to be proficient, but not necessarily need to be spoken at all times.

ICAO established six levels of "language proficiency" requirements requiring pilots and controllers to have a certain level of proficiency in the english language in which case you must be at least at an operational level (or level 4) with six being "expert". It is required of any ICAO member country for a pilot or controller who flies internationally or routinely communicates with pilots from international countries. If you meet the appropriate level, you are given an endorsement on your license. Even US pilots with FAA licenses who routinely fly internationally require an english language proficient endorsement, which is automatically given at a level four since english proficiency is required for any FAA pilot license.

Google aviation english courses, there are several. They are intended to teach radio users english in order pass the test and meet these requirements.

You can see the chart here:

http://www.aviationmanagement.aero/D...s/ICAOLanguageProficiencyScale.pdf

This doesn't mean other languages can't be used on atc frequencies, but those who are required to have the endorsement must be able to speak english at a level 4 and communicate with pilots or controllers in english at any time.

[Edited 2010-01-06 18:54:22 by jkudall]

User currently offlineE38 From United States of America, joined May 2008, 366 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (4 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 24205 times:

Quoting Soxfan, "Is English the language used to communicate with ATC regardless of country, or does each country have different requirements? For example, would a Delta pilot flying JFK-TLV need to know Hebrew, or an AA pilot flying to NRT need to know Japanese?"

English is the official language of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and as such, English is used for Air Traffic Control around the world. For example (and I have heard this) a Russian airliner approaching to land in Cairo will communicate with Air Traffic Control in English.
Occasionally I have heard controllers in France communicating with French aircraft in French and controllers in Spain speaking to Spanish aircraft in Spanish. However, this seems to be the exception, not the rule.
The only exception I can think of with regard to a pilot not speaking English would be if a pilot in China, for example, conducted operations entirely within China, he or she would probably not need to speak English.
To answer your question, A Delta pilot flying to Tel Aviv does not need to speak Hebrew nor does an American pilot flying to Tokyo need to speak Japanese. The controllers in Tel Aviv and Tokyo would speak perfectly good English. Pilots flying internationally are generally advised to speak slowly, clearly, avoid jargon, and not inject any humor into their transmissions.


User currently offlineFX772LRF From United States of America, joined Apr 2009, 675 posts, RR: 12
Reply 10, posted (4 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 24176 times:

Do they need to know english? Yes.

Are they required to know english? Yes.

Do they always know english fluently, or enough to communicate over the radio? Not always.

There have been many incidents of this at large airports that cater to international carriers.

Here is a link to a YouTube video of such occurances:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3AFv48IWhJw

-Noah  wave 

P.S. - My 400th post.



Cleared to IAH via CLL 076 radial/BAZBL/RIICE3, up to 3k, 7k in 10, departure on 134.3, squawk 4676, Colgan 9581.
User currently offline757MDE From Colombia, joined Sep 2004, 1753 posts, RR: 6
Reply 11, posted (4 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 24164 times:

Here in Colombia (and I would guess applies for most if not all of Latin America) routine ATC is held in Spanish, but if a Pilot speaks to ATC in English the controller is supposed to be able to communicate with him/her in English too, and also if a Pilot of a Colombian airline just wanted to speak in English, the controller would have to do so as well.


I gladly accept donations to pay for flight hours! This thing draws man...
User currently offlineSoxfan From United States of America, joined Mar 2008, 869 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (4 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 24004 times:



Quoting FX772LRF (Reply 10):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3AFv4...IWhJw

Wow, that's just scary. I have absolutely nothing against non-native English speakers, but I can understand why the air traffic controller might begin to lose his temper a bit since hundreds of people's lives are at stake. I hope and assume this is the exception, not the norm.



Pilot: "Request push, which way should we face?" JFK Ground: "You better face the front, sir, or you'll scare the pax!"
User currently offlineRFields5421 From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 7607 posts, RR: 32
Reply 13, posted (4 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 23927 times:



Quoting E38 (Reply 9):
The only exception I can think of with regard to a pilot not speaking English would be if a pilot in China, for example, conducted operations entirely within China, he or she would probably not need to speak English.

A great many Chinese take primary flight instruction through their commercial certification in the US - taught by US native english speakers. At the school were I do some GA training, 70% of the students are Chinese and speak english at level 4 or higher. 25% from India with better language skills.

The sad thing is the young CFI's trying to build hours to apply for airline jobs in the US, and all the Chinese and Indian students come in the front door for their first flight with a guaranteed airline job. All they have to do is complete the training successfully.

Quoting E38 (Reply 9):
I have heard controllers in France communicating with French aircraft in French

That is how the pilot of the Shorts 360 was killed at CDG. The tower talking to one aircraft in English and another aircraft cleared onto the same runway in French.

Now I certainly understand that in many nations at small airports the local language will be used. But at international airports, it is not only important that the controllers understand the english speaking pilots, but that the english speaking pilots understand instructions given to french pilots.


User currently offlineAirIndia From United Arab Emirates, joined Jan 2001, 1654 posts, RR: 1
Reply 14, posted (4 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 23881 times:



Quoting RFields5421 (Reply 13):
all the Chinese and Indian students come in the front door for their first flight with a guaranteed airline job

its good to see some economies are growing!!!  Smile


User currently offlineTdscanuck From Canada, joined Jan 2006, 12709 posts, RR: 80
Reply 15, posted (4 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 23857 times:



Quoting LAXintl (Reply 3):
Quoting TheGMan (Reply 1):
ICAO says that all ATC regardless of country is in english.

  Since when?

I can't tell you the "when", but Ammendment 164 to ICAO Annex 1 requires:
"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."

They can have languages in addition to English, but they've got to have English.

Tom.


User currently offlineMir From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 21798 posts, RR: 55
Reply 16, posted (4 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 23822 times:



Quoting Soxfan (Reply 12):
t I can understand why the air traffic controller might begin to lose his temper a bit since hundreds of people's lives are at stake.

Let's remember, this was on the ground. And unless there's a runway involved, it's really hard to kill people on the ground. The most that was at stake in that situation was a delay.

-Mir



7 billion, one nation, imagination...it's a beautiful day
User currently offlineLAXintl From United States of America, joined May 2000, 26022 posts, RR: 50
Reply 17, posted (4 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 23819 times:



Quoting Tdscanuck (Reply 15):

I think the key is "International".

I can list you dozens of countries where ATC comm's are primarily in their native language. Latin America is heavily Spanish, in China and Russia there are entire sections of the country that have no English controllers period. In Russia you need to pick up a radio operator if you want to operate there, while China just wont authorize or let you file a flight plan there. Other counties like France, Turkey, Mideast, sections of Africa etc. use quite a bit of native language on the frequency also. Even down in Tahiti its French.
I know as I fly in these places, speaking the local lingua. (I speak about 7 languages  Smile )



From the desert to the sea, to all of Southern California
User currently offlineLAXintl From United States of America, joined May 2000, 26022 posts, RR: 50
Reply 18, posted (4 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 23781 times:

Since I recall French speaking ATC in Canada - here is the Transport Canada's regulations that allow all French services if desired.
http://www.tc.gc.ca/civilaviation/regserv/affairs/old-regs/AA3.HTM

TRAFFIC CONTROL UNITS WHERE ADVISORY SERVICES AND AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL SERVICES ARE AVAILABLE IN THE FRENCH LANGUAGE

Area Control Centre
1. Montréal

Terminal Control Units

2. Bagotville

3. Québec

Airport Control Tower Units

4. Bagotville

5. Baie-Comeau

6. Montréal International (Dorval)

7. Montréal International (Mirabel)

8. Ottawa

9. Québec

10. St-Honoré

11. St-Hubert

12. St-Jean

13. Sept-Îles

14. Val-d'Or



From the desert to the sea, to all of Southern California
User currently offlineAcey559 From United States of America, joined Jan 2007, 1542 posts, RR: 2
Reply 19, posted (4 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 23750 times:

How long ago was it that the FAA required all US pilots to have "English Proficient" on our licenses? My first license didn't have it, and I don't think my Instrument had it either, but since then my Commercial and Multi have had it displayed. So by FAA standards one (a US pilot, anyway) must be proficient in the language, however as stated above, proficient is a pretty wide term open to interpretation.

User currently offlineKnightsofmalta From Malta, joined Nov 2005, 1843 posts, RR: 20
Reply 20, posted (4 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 23713 times:

ICAO Annex 10, 5.2.1.1.2:
"...pending the development and adoption of a more suitable form of speech for universal use in aeronautcial radiotelephony communications, the English language should be used as such and shall be available on request."

The pilot must be able to communicate either in English or the language spoken on the ground.

Since 5 March 2008 ICAO has introduced the ICAO Language Proficiency Requirements for pilots and ATCOs, they now have to demonstrate that they are able to speak a variety of English that is comprehensible to the international aviation community as stated in document 9835.

Regrettably though, the whole thing has turned into rather a huge mess. All native speakers of English for example automatically got the endorsement even though I would argue that the Scottish or Texan variety of English are both not easy to understand for the international aviation community.


User currently offlineTonystan From Ireland, joined Jan 2006, 1445 posts, RR: 2
Reply 21, posted (4 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 23548 times:



Quoting LAXintl (Reply 3):
Confused Since when?

Since always.

English is the universal language of the aviation industry. All ATC comms are to be conducted in English. There are exceptions obviously with local carriers often discussing ATC matters in the local language but in the interests of safety it is all standardised in English!



My views are my own and do not reflect any other person or organisation.
User currently offlineAirNz From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 22, posted (4 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 23517 times:



Quoting TheGMan (Reply 1):
ICAO says that all ATC regardless of country is in english.

Not quite correct at all.

Quoting E38 (Reply 9):
English is the official language of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and as such, English is used for Air Traffic Control around the world.

Yes, but whilst it is the 'official' language of ICAO it is not a requirement that it must be spoken at all times whilst flying.

Quoting Tonystan (Reply 21):
Since always.

English is the universal language of the aviation industry. All ATC comms are to be conducted in English.

Wrong, and I would suggest you read Amendment 164 of ICAO. Communication can be conducted in either English or whatever the language may be on the ground. Whilst English is 'official', per sé, it is not a requirement that only English must be spoken at all times.


User currently offlineTayser From Australia, joined Mar 2008, 1134 posts, RR: 0
Reply 23, posted (4 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 23487 times:



Quoting Knightsofmalta (Reply 20):
even though I would argue that the Scottish or Texan variety of English are both not easy to understand for the international aviation community

...lol lumping Texans and Scots together - gold.


User currently offlineNighthawk From UK - Scotland, joined Sep 2001, 5178 posts, RR: 33
Reply 24, posted (4 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days ago) and read 23436 times:



Quoting Tayser (Reply 23):
...lol lumping Texans and Scots together - gold.

Black Gold?  Silly



That'll teach you
25 Kaiarahi : We've had this discussion many times on a.net. Each time, it's amazing how some English speakers cannot get over their linguistic chauvinism. Wrong! I
26 Post contains links Aer Lingus : Even English speaking pilots and ATC couldn't communicate. Listen to this United 1448 conversation http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cofPH1y9vuw
27 RFields5421 : I have read the report. Your baised attitude is showing. Yes, the controller cleared two aircraft onto the same runway at the same time. He cleared o
28 SCCutler : I am such a creature - Texan by birth, Cameron by heritage.
29 AirNz : However, to be fair, are you talking more about accents here rather than the English language itself? Whilst widely known within the Celtic countries
30 TheSonntag : Of course that is an issue, but that happens in Paris all the time...
31 Kaiarahi : So you think it would be safer if a controller gave a clearance to a French speaking crew in English? What bias? BTW, "baise(r)" is French for horizo
32 777jaah : I've heard BOG atc speaking in english to american carriers, and next, in spanish to local traffic. And we get quite a few american pilots everyday he
33 AirPacific747 : Actually in JAR-land, English is the only language allowed now, that's also why you need to go through an english proficiency check when you are takin
34 Post contains links AAR90 : Interesting question. A quick web search reveals ICAO English Language
35 AirPacific747 : Just to clear up the confusion that seems to be here regarding ICAO: ICAO is a little irrelevant because it is not something the ICAO member countries
36 SW733 : In Namibia, the default is English but not necessarily most popular...it's also the official language of our country, but very few people are actually
37 Airplanenut : I think within the last year the ICAO started mandating it for international flights. The FAA just started printing it, since speaking English is a r
38 Matheus : Here in Brazil you can speak either in portuguese or in english, except for Foz do Iguaçu TMA, where you can speak in spanish as well. By the book, t
39 Matheus : Sorry for the flood and the stupid question, but, which level english natives get automatically? 6? Or 4 and if you want more you do a test?
40 Kaiarahi : Understood. But the posts I was responding to stated that ICAO had mandated English as the only acceptable aviation language.
41 AirPacific747 : Understood as well, but this was just a general note and not directed specifically at you. I believe there is no simple answer to the question the th
42 413X3 : Cmon now, would this really even be possible
43 Babybus : In fact the requirement was only tightened up last January. All non-English speaking pilots have to take a test where they are subjected to a number o
44 AirPacific747 : See the post below: We had to summarize three different scenarios we heard on a tape. It was in English and we had to summarize it in english as well
45 Matheus : Yes, they play a few recorded emergency situations (doctors announcing ill passenger, aircrafts failures, passengers misbehaving, etc), with various
46 Cactus105 : Exactly. I've heard many times in Mexico the pilots/controllers speak in Spanish but once a foreign flight or aircraft comes in (in this example and
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