The European Air Traffic Control License and English Language Proficiency

The International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers' Associations (IFATCA), representing over fifty thousand air traffic controllers around the world, welcomes the introduction of the European Community (EC) common Air Traffic Control License, but has concerns about the low level of compliance of ICAO Language Proficiency Requirements.
IFATCA welcomes the introduction of the European Community Air Traffic Control License on 17 May 2008 and supports the harmonization of ATC licensing standards as a positive safety step. However, by allowing its Member States to ignore the ICAO deadline of 5 March 2008 for the introduction of the Language Proficiency Requirements, the European Commission has displayed a regrettable contempt for international standards of aviation safety. IFATCA hopes that in the future when the European Community sees the need for a difference to ICAO requirements; it will instead be proactive and demand a higher standard from its Member States. IFATCA is very disappointed at the poor world-wide level of compliance with the ICAO Language Proficiency Requirements with more than 75% of ICAO Member States currently being non-compliant. Equally disappointing is the fact that within the EC 55% of the Member States are non-compliant whilst a further 10% have failed to report their status to ICAO. Of those EC Member States who have notified ICAO of plans for future compliance, the standard of those plans shows considerable variation, from very detailed and comprehensive submissions to very minimalist plans. These results cannot be considered satisfactory for an organization that professes a commitment to be a world leader in aviation standards and practices! IFATCA requests that the EC urge its Member States to accelerate their implementation of the ICAO Language Proficiency Requirements in the interests of safety and harmonization, as embodied in the spirit of the common ATC licensing procedure. IFATCA hopes that the EC Air Traffic Control license, and the benefits it will bring, may go some way to help address the chronic staff shortage that exists in Europe by making the profession more attractive to potential recruits, and enhancing retention of existing staff.
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