VOLUME 5 AIRMAN CERTIFICATION
CHAPTER 14 FAA ENGLISH LANGUAGE STANDARD FOR CERTIFICATION UNDER 14 CFR PARTS
Section 1 Determine If an Applicant/Certificated Airman Meets the English Language Eligibility Requirement for an FAA Certificate
5-1905 PROGRAM TRACKING AND REPORTING SUBSYSTEM (PTRS) ACTIVITY CODES.
A. Operations: 1590.
B. Maintenance/Repairman: 3504 for mechanic; 3508 for maintenance repairman.
C. Avionics: 5508.
D. Parachute Rigger: 3503.
E. Aircraft Dispatcher: 1524.
5-1906 BACKGROUND. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has determined that the Aviation English Language
Standard (AELS) is similar to other skills and proficiencies an FAA-certificated airman or applicant must possess. The airman must continue to
possess the required skills and proficiencies stated in the
Airman Certification Standards (ACS) and airman
practical test standards (PTS).
This is especially critical regarding the AELS, since the FAA identified that lack of AELS skills is a serious hazard to the National Airspace
System (NAS) and flight operations. The FAA has coordinated with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and its Member States
affirming that the English language will be used for all standard aviation communications. The FAA has accepted the ICAO Language Proficiency
Ratings Scale Operational Level 4 as the minimum English proficiency level required for all persons who currently hold a temporary or permanent
FAA certificate and/or rating. This includes a person making an application for, or who already holds, an FAA Student Pilot Certificate. Further,
the FAA accepted the ICAO standard and adopted the following guidance to provide a reasonable method for determining that an individual meets the
FAA regulatory English language eligibility standards for all the respective unrestricted FAA certificates issued under Title 14 of the Code of
Federal Regulations (14 CFR) parts
Finally, the increasing number of foreign students entering the United States seeking to obtain flight training and the increase in pilot deviations
(PD) reported by the Air Traffic Organization (ATO) involving lack of English language skills have precipitated the agency to develop an AELS
metric to be utilized to assess applicants for or holders of FAA certificates without placing restrictions due to failure to meet the AELS. The
use of this metric will enable aviation safety inspectors (ASI) and Designated Examiners (DE) to determine if an applicant or FAA-certificated
individual meets the FAA regulatory English language eligibility requirements for his or her respective FAA certificate.
5-1907 APPLICABILITY. This section provides an ASI with a process to assess an individual referred to the FAA,
or otherwise showing cause for an English language assessment, because his or her ability to meet the FAA regulatory English language eligibility
requirements to apply for or hold an FAA certificate is in question. The basis for the referral could be from, for example, an authorized individual
or organization (see subparagraph B) during testing, checking, or training (such as a proficiency check, flight review, or solo flight
endorsement), or by an ASI during surveillance or investigation activities.
A. Regulatory Requirement. Part
and 61.183 state
an applicant must “[b]e able to read, speak, write, and understand the English language.” In addition, each of the following FAA
certificates has a respective FAA regulatory English language eligibility requirement:
• Flight Engineer (Part
• Flight Navigator (Part
• Air Traffic Control Tower Operator (Part
• Aircraft Dispatcher (Part
• Mechanic (Part
• Repairman (Part
• Parachute Rigger (Part
• Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Remote Pilot with
a small UAS rating (Part 107).
B. Authorized Individuals and Organizations. The FAA has determined that authorized individuals (such as flight
instructors), organizations, and training centers have responsibility during testing, checking, accepting an application for a Student Pilot
Certificate, issuing an endorsement for a flight review or solo privileges, or conducting a pilot proficiency check, to ensure that the individual
meets the FAA regulatory English language eligibility requirements. Advisory Circular (AC)
FAA English Language Standard for an FAA Certificate Issued Under 14 CFR Parts
provides guidance for authorized individuals and organizations to assess if an applicant for a certificate or rating, or holder of an FAA certificate,
does or does not meet the FAA regulatory English language eligibility requirements for his or her respective FAA certificate. If the
individual’s ability to meet the FAA regulatory English language eligibility requirements is in question, they are to refer that individual
to the FAA Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) of jurisdiction to have his or her ability to meet the FAA regulatory English language eligibility
5-1908 REFERENCES, FORMS, AND JOB AIDS.
A. References (current editions):
1) Title 14 CFR Parts
2) FAA Orders:
• FAA Order
FAA Compliance and Enforcement Program.
• FAA Order
Air Traffic Control. Prescribes air traffic control (ATC) procedures and phraseology.
• FAA Order 8900.1:
• Volume 3, Chapter 54, Section 2,
Part 142 Training Centers:
Training, Qualification, and Designation of Training Center Instructions and Evaluators.
• Volume 5, Airman Certification.
• Volume 13, Chapter 5, Section 2,
Paragraph 13-436, Review of a Designee’s Decision.
• Volume 14, Chapter 1, Appendix 14-1,
Compliance Philosophy and Pilot’s Bill of Rights Brochure.
• Volume 16,
Unmanned Aircraft Systems.
• FAA Order
General Aviation Airman Designee Handbook.
3) Other Documents. Resources include, but are not limited to:
Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS).
Airman Certification Standards (ACS).
• FAA Airman Knowledge Test Guides, Handbooks, and
Manuals available at
• FAA Information for Operators (InFO) 08012,
International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Language Proficiency Requirements.
• FAA-S-8081-10, Aircraft Dispatcher
Practical Test Standards.
• FAA-G-8082-9, Flight Engineer Knowledge Test Guide.
• FAA-G-8082-20, Remote Pilot Knowledge Test Guide.
• FAA-H-8083-25, Pilot’s Handbook of
• FAA-H-8083-27, Student Pilot Guide.
• FAA-H-8083-30, Aviation Maintenance Technician Handbook.
• ICAO Annex 1, Personnel Licensing.
• ICAO English Language Criteria Definitions
found in ICAO Document 9835, Manual on the Implementation of ICAO Language Proficiency Requirements. Available at
• Live ATC audio at
B. Forms. None.
C. Job Aids. None.
5-1909 ICAO ENGLISH LANGUAGE CRITERIA DEFINITIONS. The FAA has accepted the ICAO Language Proficiency Ratings
Scale Operational Level 4 as its minimum proficiency requirement. The Proficiency Scale is found in ICAO Document 9835. These definitions
apply to any applicant or airman applying for or holding an FAA certificate.
A. Pronunciation (P). This assumes that English is not the applicant’s native language and that the applicant
has a dialect or accent that is intelligible to the aeronautical community. Pronunciation, stress, rhythm, and intonation are influenced by the
applicant’s native language, but only sometimes interfere with ease of understanding.
B. Structure (S). Relevant grammatical structures and sentence patterns are determined by language functions
appropriate to the task. Basic grammatical structures and sentence patterns are used creatively and are usually well controlled by the applicant.
Errors may occur, particularly in unusual or unexpected circumstances, but rarely interfere with meaning.
C. Vocabulary (V). The applicant’s vocabulary range and accuracy are usually sufficient to communicate
effectively on common, concrete, and work-related topics. The applicant can often paraphrase successfully when lacking vocabulary in unusual or
D. Fluency (F). The applicant produces stretches of language at an appropriate tempo. There may be occasional
loss of fluency on transition from rehearsed or formulaic speech to spontaneous interaction, but this does not prevent effective communication.
The applicant can make limited use of discourse markers or connectors. Fillers are not distracting.
E. Comprehension (C). Comprehension by the applicant is mostly accurate on common, concrete, and work-related
topics when the dialect, accent, or variety used is sufficiently intelligible. When the applicant is confronted with a linguistic or situational
complication or an unexpected turn of events, comprehension may be slower or require clarification strategies.
F. Interactions (I). Responses by the applicant are usually immediate, appropriate, and informative. The applicant
initiates and maintains exchanges even when dealing with an unexpected turn of events. The applicant deals adequately with apparent
misunderstandings by checking, confirming, or clarifying.
NOTE: Reports have determined that an individual referred for an AELS may possess the attributes listed above and be
able to communicate using the English language, yet be handicapped during flight in a high-traffic environment (also due to the stress associated
with being an inexperienced pilot) because English is their second language.
5-1910 THE FAA MINIMUM ENGLISH LANGUAGE ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENT. ICAO Operational Level 4 is the minimum
acceptable level of proficiency to meet the FAA regulatory English language eligibility requirements for an FAA certificate. ASIs are encouraged
to use the following ICAO language proficiency website to familiarize their hearing and educate themselves with regard to ICAO English language
proficiency (ELP) operational levels so they can better determine whether an individual meets FAA AELS at ICAO Operational Level 4:
NOTE: This site provides language audio samples of ICAO Operational Level 4, which is required to meet the AELS criteria
defined in paragraph 5-1909. In the audio samples, proficiency criteria are listed as P (Pronunciation), S (Structure), V (Vocabulary), F (Fluency),
C (Comprehension), and I (Interactions) for the various levels of proficiency, as shown in Figure 5-233, ICAO Rated Speech Samples
Developed for ICAO by the International Civil Aviation English Association (ICAEA). The minimum operational level for an FAA certificate is
Operational Level 4.
5-1911 ASSESSING THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE SKILLS OF AN APPLICANT FOR OR HOLDER OF AN FAA CERTIFICATE. The following is
the overall English language assessment policy and actions to be taken if an individual’s ability to meet the FAA regulatory English language
eligibility requirements to apply for or hold an FAA certificate is in question.
NOTE: Reports have determined that an individual referred for an AELS assessment may be able to communicate in English
during a conversation, but may become inhibited and unable to communicate in accordance with the
flight in a high-traffic environment due to English being their second language and the stress associated with being an inexperienced pilot. Therefore,
a totally unassisted flight in a busy environment with induced stress may be necessary to accomplish the AELS assessment. In such cases, the ASI is
to observe the student or certificated pilot conduct a flight without any assistance, unless a safety issue occurs, to determine that the individual
can perform in accordance with the
A. Individual Referred to the FAA for an AELS Assessment. Per AC
an FAA AELS evaluator will refer the individual to the FAA for assessment. Per the definition in the AC, an evaluator is any individual who is
authorized to conduct certification, training, testing, or checking, or to issue an endorsement required by the regulations. Upon receiving notification
from the evaluator of an individual whose ability to meet the FAA regulatory English language eligibility requirements to hold an FAA certificate is
in question, the FSDO of jurisdiction will contact the individual and schedule an appointment to assess if the individual meets the FAA regulatory
English language eligibility requirements to hold an FAA certificate. Initially, the ASI will conduct an AELS assessment to validate the reason the
individual was referred to the FSDO. As part of the assessment, the FAA will provide the individual with the Pilot’s Bill of Rights (PBR)
B. Referred Individual Does Not Contact FSDO for an AELS Assessment.
1) The application that started with the evaluator should have been submitted to the Airmen Certification Branch
(AFB-720) indicating “Referred to FSDO for AELS Determination.” If the individual does not contact the FSDO of jurisdiction or the FSDO
is not able to contact the individual within a reasonable time (e.g., 2 weeks), the FSDO will notify AFB-720 to place a stop on any application for
an FAA certificate or rating filed for the respective individual. After receiving that application, AFB-720 will have an indicator placed in the
airman record that will prevent any future issuances or reissuances until an ASI has submitted a “Meets AELS” application to AFB-720. If
the individual attempts to sidestep the AELS validation process and goes to another DE in another jurisdiction and is issued the certificate/rating,
then AFB-720 will notify the office granting the certificate/rating of the previous lack of qualifications by returning the application on a Correction
Notice and request that the second FSDO and certifying DE collaborate with the initial FSDO and DE to have the individual assessed for AELS by the
2) If an evaluator refers an FAA-certificated individual to the FSDO of jurisdiction for an AELS assessment,
regardless of whether the event was a certification event or any other event, and the individual does not contact the FSDO or the FSDO cannot contact
the referred individual, the FSDO will follow the procedures in subparagraph C.
C. Certificated Airman Does Not Meet the FAA AELS. If the initial assessment reveals that the certificated airman
does not meet the FAA AELS, FAA personnel will use the reexamination authority of Title 49 of the United States Code (49 U.S.C.) § 44709(a). See
Volume 5, Chapter 7, Reexamination of an Airman, and refer to Order
chapter 5, paragraph 11.
NOTE: Per Order
chapter 5, the FAA does not allow an airman who has not demonstrated qualifications to try repeatedly to prove qualification. Generally, if the airman
has twice submitted to reexamination and twice failed, the certificate or rating is revoked. The opportunity for a second reexamination is allowed when
the airman voluntarily places his or her certificate “on deposit” with the FAA following the first failure, while the certificate holder
prepares for the second attempt.
D. Applicant for a Flight Engineer, Flight Navigator, Air Traffic Control Tower Operator, Aircraft Dispatcher, Mechanic,
Repairman, Parachute Rigger, or Remote Pilot Certificate Does Not Meet the FAA AELS. In the case of an applicant for a Flight Engineer, Flight
Navigator, Air Traffic Control Tower Operator, Mechanic, Repairman, Parachute Rigger, or Remote Pilot Certificate who does not meet this requirement,
the Administrator may place any limitation on the certificate that he or she considers necessary for safety. If it is determined that an individual
applicant for one of these certificates does not meet the respective FAA regulatory English language eligibility requirements, see Volume 5, Chapters
4 and 5, and Volume 16, Chapter 3, as applicable, to determine if a limitation for English language is available. There are no limitations applicable
to Aircraft Dispatcher Certificates. Therefore, Aircraft Dispatchers must always meet AELS requirements.
5-1912 CONDUCTING THE AELS ASSESSMENT.
A. The FAA AELS. The FAA AELS is the metric by which the applicant for an FAA certificate or rating, or a holder
of an FAA certificate, demonstrates his or her ability to read, speak, write, and understand the English language. Meeting this standard will ensure that
the individual meets the FAA regulatory English language eligibility requirements for his or her respective FAA certificate.
107 Certificates. The
language standard for pilots states, “In accordance with the requirements of 14 CFR parts
the FAA Aviation English language standard, throughout the application and testing process, the applicant must demonstrate the ability to read, write,
speak, and understand the English language. English language standard is required to communicate effectively with ATC, to comply with ATC
instructions, and to ensure clear and effective crew communication and coordination. Normal restatement of questions does not constitute grounds for
For those certificates issued under parts
the metric parallels the
However, the ASI should focus on the individual’s ability to communicate in English in a discernible and understandable manner with others.
B. Communication in English. Regardless of whether the individual’s first language is or is not English, listen
to determine that the individual can communicate in English with ATC, pilots, and others involved in preparing an aircraft for flight and operating an
aircraft in flight. This communication may or may not involve the use of the radio.
NOTE: Specific to a pilot and additional ratings, refer to the appropriate
ensure that the pilot/applicant is able to communicate effectively with ATC, to comply with ATC instructions, and to ensure clear and effective crew
communication and coordination.
C. ASI Interaction. The interaction between the ASI and the individual will assist the ASI in determining whether
or not the individual meets the FAA regulatory English language eligibility requirements.
D. Assessment and Testing Examples. Assess the individual’s ability to meet the FAA regulatory English
language eligibility requirements for the respective FAA certificate. See paragraph 5-1911 for details. Below are testing examples that can be used
during the assessment, which must be tailored to meet the expectations of the certificate held.
1) As part of the process, engage the individual in conversation.
2) Ask the individual to read from aviation materials. Ask the individual to explain and write down what he or
3) For pilots and instructors, have the individual listen to ATC instructions and explain what he or she hears.
4) Listen, observe, and ask yourself:
• Can the individual read English?
• Can the individual write English?
• Does the individual understand and follow your
• From the individual’s explanation of what
he or she read, could you understand him or her without undue focus on his or her pronunciation and speech?
• Will his or her English skills enable him or her
to communicate effectively with ATC, understand and comply with ATC instructions, communicate with others involved in the preparation of an aircraft
for flight and/or in the conduct of flight, and provide effective communication and crew coordination as needed?
• Did the individual explain/respond to questions
that demonstrated he or she understands the English presented in the material(s) he or she read, ATC instructions he or she heard, and the questions
5-1913 EXCEPTION TO CONDUCTING 49 U.S.C. § 44709 REEXAMINATION DUE TO INDIVIDUAL NOT MEETING AELS. The
following are exceptions to the requirements to conduct a § 44709 reexamination, or denial of issuing the individual an FAA certificate (see
Figure 5-231, Referred to FSDO for AELS Determination Process).
A. The Individual Has a Medical Condition. An applicant who is unable to meet the FAA regulatory English language
eligibility requirements due to medical reasons (e.g., he or she is hearing impaired) may be issued an FAA certificate. In this case, the
Administrator may place such operating limitations or an exemption on the applicant’s certificate. If a limitation or an exemption is available
for the respective certificate relative to a medical reason for not meeting the FAA regulatory English language eligibility requirements, refer
to the appropriate section of this order for the certificate applied for or held by the individual.
B. Flight Engineer, Flight Navigator, Air Traffic Control Tower Operator, Mechanic, Repairman, Parachute Rigger, or
Remote Pilot Certificate Applicant Does Not Meet the FAA Regulatory English Language Eligibility Requirements Other Than for a Medical Reason.
§ 65.71(a)(2); or part
as applicable, refer to the appropriate guidance in this order to determine if a limitation can be issued for the individual not meeting the FAA
regulatory English language eligibility requirements for the respective FAA certificate.
5-1914 IF THE ASI DETERMINES THE INDIVIDUAL DOES NOT MEET THE FAA AELS.
A. FAA-Certificated Individuals. If the ASI has reasonable question as to whether a certificated individual, including
an individual holding a Student Pilot Certificate, does not meet the FAA regulatory English language eligibility requirements, he or she will:
1) Issue a letter of reexamination to the individual containing the written PBR.
2) Prepare the letter of reexamination stating the factual basis on which the reexamination is requested and the
scope of the reexamination. For example, the reexamination is based upon reasonable question of the individual’s qualifications to meet the FAA
regulatory English language eligibility requirements to apply for or hold an FAA certificate, and the ASI requests the certificate holder place his
or her certificate on temporary deposit with the appropriate Flight Standards office (FSDO/certificate management office (CMO)) pending reexamination.
The inspector can inform that certificate holder that while the certificate is on deposit, the individual can improve his or her English language
proficiency before taking the reexamination (e.g., by taking the aviation English language course). Refer to Volume 5, Chapter 7;
Volume 14, Chapter 1, Section 3;
chapter 5, paragraph 11.
B. FAA Certificate and/or Rating Applicants. For an applicant for an FAA certificate and/or rating, the ASI will:
1) Initiate a new Integrated Airman Certification and/or Rating Application (IACRA) or appropriate paper FAA application
form and certification file.
2) Disapprove the IACRA or paper application.
3) If the appropriate application form has a “Meets Aviation English Language Standard” box, mark the
box. If the form does not have a “Meets Aviation English Language Standard” box, indicate in the free text box, “Does Not Meet
English Language Standard.”
4) Provide comments to indicate the reason for the rejection.
5) Forward the application to AFB-720.
6) Confirm that the evaluator forwarded the rejected application/notice of disapproval to AFB-720 (per Order
If the evaluator used the paper application form, ensure that the form was forwarded by the FSDO for processing to AFB-720. If the application is based
on a foreign certificate or military experience, ensure the evaluator issued FAA Form 8060-5, Notice of Disapproval of Application.
7) Complete a PTRS record of the actions taken by the ASI and the evaluator.
C. Corrective Action Before Another AELS Assessment Can Be Conducted. Advise the applicant/airman that he or she may
take an aviation English language course to receive a certificate of completion that meets the ICAO Operational Level 4 before reapplying for the
certificate. See Figure 5-232, Examples of English Language Proficiency (ELP) ICAO-Recognized Course Completion Certificate, for sample completion
5-1915 ACTONS TO BE TAKEN FOR AN APPLICANT FOR AN FAA CERTIFICATE AND FOR AN FAA-CERTIFICATED INDIVIDUAL THAT MEETS
THE FAA AELS.
A. Certification Application/Test or Student Pilot Application. The ASI will:
1) Initiate a new IACRA application, or initiate a paper application, and mark/enter on the application that the
individual meets the FAA regulatory English language eligibility requirements to hold an FAA certificate.
2) Issue the appropriate temporary certificate, and forward the approved and appropriate completed FAA application
to AFB-720 for processing.
3) Complete a PTRS record of the actions taken by the ASI and the evaluator.
B. FAA-Certificated Individual. If an FAA-certificated individual is referred by an evaluator that was conducting
a required 14 CFR testing, checking, or review event that was terminated or not signed off by the evaluator because the evaluator questioned whether
the individual meets the FAA regulatory English language eligibility requirements to hold an FAA certificate, the ASI will:
1) Complete a PTRS record indicating in the “Remarks” section that the FAA assessed the individual and
that individual meets the FAA regulatory English language eligibility requirements for an FAA certificate, and enters the action taken to notify the
evaluator of the results and authorizes the evaluator to complete the initial event as applicable.
2) Inform the evaluator of the results, and if the event involves obtaining the evaluator’s endorsement, the
evaluator can complete the flight event and issue the appropriate endorsement or training as appropriate in order for the airman to continue exercise
the privileges of their FAA certificate.
5-1916 FOREIGN PILOTS HOLDING OR NOT HOLDING AN FAA CERTIFICATE. If an ASI during any surveillance or ramp inspection
becomes aware of a foreign pilot who appears not to speak in English in an understandable and discernable manner, they will comply with
Volume 12, Chapter 2, Section 8.
Figure 5-231. Referred to FSDO for AELS Determination Process
Figure 5-232. Examples of English Language Proficiency (ELP) ICAO-Recognized Course Completion Certificate
Figure 5-232. Examples of English Language Proficiency (ELP) ICAO-Recognized Course Completion
Figure 5-233. ICAO Rated Speech Samples Developed for ICAO by the International Civil Aviation
English Association (ICAEA)
RESERVED. Paragraphs 5-1917 through 5-1930.