ICAO/EASA Language Proficiency Requirements (LPR) Workshop

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ICAO Regional Office, Lima, Peru – 23-25 April 2024

by Jean-François Lepage

IFATCA Deputy President

IFATCA was invited to participate in the recent International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Language Proficiency Requirements (LPR) Workshop. The event was held at the ICAO Regional Office in Lima, Peru, between 23-25 April 2024. The main goal was to examine how ICAO, States and International Organisations, such as IFATCA, could work together to facilitate the implementation of ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) contained in ICAO Annex 1 regarding English Language Proficiency requirements. The workshop also encouraged sharing best practices and experiences from the field on implementing these provisions.

ICAO gave the perspectives of the headquarters in Montréal, Canada, while the South American office of ICAO presented the views and challenges specific to the region. EASA co-sponsored the event, shared its views on implementation and presented its safety risk portfolio and intervention strategy for LPR.

The second day of the workshop was dedicated to sharing best practices and challenges experienced by States and International Organisations. ANAC Brazil presented their language proficiency compliance strategy from the regulator’s perspective. The International Civil Aviation English Association (ICAEA) presented the testing and test design guidelines they developed concerning LPR. Embry-Riddle University (Florida, USA) gave an overview of their language proficiency training programme. Finally, the Civil Air Navigation Services Organization (CANSO) shared their experience with LPR and the associated evaluation challenges.

The last day of the workshop started with a presentation from DECEA, the Brazilian Air Navigation Service Provider (ANSP), who shared their challenges and experiences regarding LPR compliance. IFATCA then presented the Speak English Programme (SEP), an initiative launched during the pandemic by Anthony Ang (Singapore), Cheryl Chen (Taiwan) and Nainaa Dashdolgor (Mongolia) from our Asia/Pacific region. Finally, IFALPA presented the challenges pilots are facing with LPR.

What is the IFATCA Speak English Programme?

The Programme was established in 2019 to provide controllers and pilots with an opportunity to talk, think, and participate in discussions in English so that their use of the language outside of operations can improve. The main purpose and objectives of the SEP are to allow participants to build up self-confidence, enhance their speaking capabilities, and encourage them to think in English in a friendly environment.

The SEP is composed of facilitators, participants, and the programme secretariat. Facilitators host meetings for participants. Ideally, sessions do not accommodate more than three participants simultaneously to allow everyone to contribute meaningfully to the discussions. These sessions last for approximately one hour, but if the conversation is flowing, they can extend beyond that time limit.

Participants can be either controllers/members of IFATCA, pilots/members of IFALPA, or a combination of both. It is important to remember that the SEP is not an accredited English programme preparing the participants for the ICAO English Language Proficiency Requirement (LPR). It is designed to help participants improve their skills in an informal setting. The only thing participants need to have prior to embarking on the programme is access to Google Calendar, which is the system used for bookings and matchings.

The SEP secretariat administers the programme. These volunteers organise the matching of participants with facilitators, where dates provided by the latter are matched with the requests submitted by the former. Facilitators provide their availability using the Google Calendar before the end of each month, and participants are then allowed to see what sessions are available to them. They then submit their request(s). The secretariat arranges the matches and sends out invitations.

Since the end of 2022, facilitators have provided more than 450 sessions, and nearly 1000 sessions were requested by participants. A match was possible for slightly more than 600 sessions!

There are more than 35 active facilitators and more than 200 active participants in the programme! Do you want to join the SEP? Visit www.ifatca.org/sep to find out more about how to register and become a participant. Would you like to become a facilitator? The only requirement is that you hold an ICAO Level 5 in LPR. Visit the IFATCA website at the address above for more details!