In February 2012 China’s aviation industry representatives, along with their international partners, conducted the All-China Pilot Job Fair in Florida, which captured the attention of more than 1000 US pilots. The lack of balance in the global pilot market has caused some flight crew ’nationality’ issues, basically in the form of making current flight crews increasingly multilingual and multicultural. Unless the industry invests in providing proper Aviation English training, they may be forced to face a number of safety issues.
Whilst the emerging Asian-Pacific market, according to Boeing, in the next 20 years will require more than 183 000 pilots, nowadays some Western countries have a significant pilot surplus which contributes to local unemployment rates. This situation forces Western pilots to seek job opportunities in such countries like China thus contributing to the emergence of multicultural flight crews worldwide.
‘Today you shouldn’t be surprised to meet a Chinese-Italian flight team. Fortunately though, the members of such international teams of aviation specialists not only have great experience and are dedicated professionals but also share one other common skill - Aviation English!’ says the CEO of AviationCV.com Skaiste Knyzaite. The knowledge of the special version of English, designed specifically for the global aviation industry, is absolutely necessary on modern international flights, because neither pilots nor traffic controllers can ensure flight safety if they don’t understand each other properly.
The necessity to adopt global unified communication standards has been accumulated with every incident or accident, which has involved miscommunication as one of the main causes. ‘The deadliest aircraft accident of all time which happened in Tenerife and killed almost 600 people was a result of miscommunication between the control tower and the pilots. Two aircraft – PAN AM and KLM – crashed into each other because of what is believed to have been a language barrier – one of the non-English speaking pilots misinterpreted a Control tower order ’ – told Skaiste Knyzaite.
However, the language knowledge requirements in the aviation transport industry are truly high and pilot’s language proficiency is examined with more scrutiny than ever. From March 2008 all pilots and traffic operators must pass at least Level 4 English (according to the ICAO scale) test, which means they must be able to demonstrate fluent communication skills during radio conversations and use unambiguous statements on work-related and general topics. Reading and understanding of general and work-related texts, perfect perception of verbal information and even clear pronunciation are a mandatory to gain the ICAO-approved organization’s confidence in ones Aviation English proficiency. Language checks are conducted every 3 years for the ICAO Level 4 holders, every 6 – for Level 5 holders and non-obligatory for Level 6 holders.
Countries all over the world apply these standards because they increase flight safety and airline reliability. Even China has obliged all their pilots to operate in English. They had actually been very fond of communicating with the ATC in Chinese before the new regularities were adopted. ‘Unfortunately, due to local legislation issues not every country has applied the ICAO language requirements, meaning that sometimes Aviation English Proficiency cannot be verified. Such situation eventually deprives local pilots of an access to global pilot market. But there is always the backdoor!’ says Skaiste Knyzaite.
‘A lot of international and local airlines today satisfy the demand for flight crew with the help of crew lease&recruitment companies. The former, in order to meet the clients’ needs, search for pilots all over the world. And sometimes they find a perfect candidate which has everything but the Language Proficiency Endorsement. Luckily, international crew recruitment agencies provide their candidates with all the needed assistance so that they can gain all the required skills and pass extra examinations. In my opinion, such companies are building the bridges between different aviation market regions and contributing to the idea of unified global aviation and thus making it safer,-’ concluded S.Knyzaite.