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ATCO Language Skills

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English Proficiency in ATC

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Air Traffic Controllers are required to have proficiency in the English language. Staff should be provided with courses focused on language instead of procedures and should include phraseology and the use of plain English.

Language performance requirements can include:

  • The ability to produce intelligible messages in unusual situations
  • The ability to communicate in plain language (English) even under stress
  • Understanding and making appropriate responses to pilot messages
  • Adherence to ICAO phraseology
  • Resolving misunderstanding in communication (e.g. by understanding cultural differences)

The English language proficiency of student air traffic controllers should be at an agreed minimum level prior to their employment in an international environment. This will allow them to carry out their assigned tasks ensuring the safety of and expedition to the affected air traffic.

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