ICAO Language Proficiency Requirements (LPRs) for Pilots and Air Traffic Controllers

The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has established English language proficiency requirements (LPRs) for all pilots operating on international routes, and all air traffic controllers who communicate with foreign pilots. These standards require pilots and air traffic controllers to be able to communicate proficiently using both ICAO phraseology and plain English.


Formal evaluation of language proficiency was required as of March 2008, but ICAO effectively extended the deadline to 05 March 2011.
All Air Traffic Controllers and Flight Crew Members engaged in or in contact with international flights must be proficient in the English language as a general spoken medium and not simply have a proficiency in standard ICAO Radio Telephony Phraseology. Those who do not have English proficiency must acquire it, or risk removal from international flight routes.

ICAO Holistic Descriptors

Proficient speakers shall:

ICAO Language Proficiency Standards

In order to conform with ICAO Language Proficiency requirements, Pilots, Air Traffic Controllers and all others who use English in R/T communication on international routes must be at ICAO English Language Level 4 (Operational) or above. An individual must demonstrate proficiency at Level 4 in all six categories in order to receive a Level 4 rating.


Those who are assessed at ICAO Level 4 (Operational) must be re-tested every three years. Those who fail may not be licensed to operate on international routes, so even if a pilot or controller achieves Level 4 once, further English training may be needed to maintain this level of proficiency.

ICAO Language Proficiency Rating Scale:

LEVEL 6 EXPERT:

LEVEL 5 EXTENDED:

LEVEL 4 OPERATIONAL:

LEVEL 3 PRE-OPERATIONAL:

LEVEL 2 ELEMENTARY:

LEVEL 1 PRE-ELEMENTARY:

English Solutions Brasília 2015

ICAO grades

English language performance on a scale from 6 (highest) to 1 (lowest):