Wings Magazine

News
English requirements could ground Chinese pilots

Tough new rules on English language standards could ground thousands of Chinese commercial airline pilots.


September 20, 2007
By Carey Fredericks

BEIJING (AP) _ Tough new rules on English language standards could ground thousands of Chinese commercial airline pilots, state media reported Friday.

Xinhua news agency said the rules, approved by the International Civil Aviation Organization in 2006, require all airline pilots who fly overseas to pass an English-language competency test by March 2008.

That is just months before the start of the Beijing Summer Olympics in August that year.

"A considerable number of Chinese pilots are ex-military who speak little or even no English,' Xinhua said.

Advertisment

About 8,600 of China's 14,000 pilots fly on international air routes and must meet the new standard, Xinhua quoted sources with
the General Administration of Civil Aviation as saying.

It quoted senior CAAC official Chen Guangcheng as saying that of the over 700 pilots who took the test in the first half of 2007, more than 600 passed.

But that leaves close to 8,000 pilots still grappling with “The Test of English for Aviation.'

Xinhua said airlines such as China Southern Airlines tackled the problem by making all its pilots take English courses for six consecutive days each month.

But the test includes a written exam and a face-to-face interview, and Xinhua said there may not be enough interviewers – who must know English and Chinese and be familiar with civil aviation – to carry out all the tests needed.