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South Korea to test pilots in English language

By Leithen Francis in Singapore

South Korea’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) will decide this month which company or companies will be responsible for testing South Korean pilots for English language proficiency so the country can meet its obligations to the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

CASA has been considering three undisclosed Korean companies and Australia’s RMIT University, says Lee Gun-young of CASA’s personnel licensing division. Lee adds that CASA is likely to appoint more than one company.

The English language proficiency tests are required to fulfil a new ICAO requirement coming into effect in March 2008 that stipulates pilots must be capable of speaking “level 4” English.

ICAO has classified six levels of English, with “level 1” being minimal English and “level 6” being that of a fluent native speaker. CASA wants to start testing pilots for “level 4” English before March 2008. Those that fail to make the grade may still be allowed to operate aircraft on international routes, although they will be expected to undertake further English language studies to achieve “level 4”.

Pilots that fail to achieve “level 4” English when the deadline kicks in will no longer be permitted to operate aircraft on international routes and will be restricted to domestic routes, says Lee.

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