Anac will examine international pilots' level of English
20/02/2009 - 13:05 - Agência Estado
Starting on March 5, the National Civil Aviation Agency (Anac) will examine at Brazilian airports airline pilots flying overseas to see if they are up to date with the level of English proficiency required by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO or OACI). All pilots who file flight plans for outside of Brazil will have their licenses checked by Anac, to see if they have Level 4 English.
The requirement went into effect in other countries in March of last year, but Brazil asked for a one-year extension.
In the case of air traffic controllers, problems with English fluency continue. According to Jorge Botelho, president of the Rio de Janeiro Union of Civilian Controllers, "nothing has changed in relation to the controllers' English proficiency".
The Federation of Controllers informed that military personnel also continue to have problems with English and the data that they have available is that in the tests performed during 2008, with more than 2,500 controllers, less than 5% reached the level of proficiency required by ICAO. In April, ICAO technicians should come to Brazil to check the efficiency of the air traffic control professionals.
The Air Force, however, contests this information from the controllers. It informs that the Department of Air Space Control (Decea) has set up a plan to raise the level of English of the professionals involved directly in serving international aircraft. It further clarified that "the Brazilian air traffic controller has the competence to execute, in English, the standard air traffic control communications and the current proposal is to expand the controllers' understanding of English, allowing them to act more securely in situations in which there is a need to go beyond the standard phraseology".
It adds that, in 2007 alone, the Air Force Command invested R$ 3,342,927.10 in English courses for air traffic controllers and that, in 2008, it added a test of intermediate-level written English to the controllers' entrance exams, besides making available programmed English lessons, focused on practical classes.
One of the factors that contributed to the accident between the Gol and the Legacy, in 2006, which killed 154 people, was the fact that the controllers did not speak English fluently at the time they made contact with the pilot of the American airplane.
The airlines inform that the demand for the requirement is already being complied with by the pilots who, in the majority, have a level of English proficiency above the Level 4 established by ICAO.
The abilities evaluated on the tests are pronunciation, grammatical structure, vocabulary, fluency, comprehension and interaction. According to Anac, a pilot who is not carrying the document testifying that he has level 4 English proficiency will be impeded from flying.