When it comes to the recognition of UK-issued pilot licences in EU Member States, Brexit really does mean Brexit for holders of pilot licences issued by the UK CAA, who now find themselves unable to operate aircraft registered in the EU.
While anybody who carried out a State of Licence Issue change (« SOLI » for short) to another EASA authority before 31/12/2020 went through a fairly painless process, anybody applying for an EASA licence as of 01/01/2021 will find themselves jumping through many more bureaucratic hoops, depending on the type of licence they hold and the authority to which they are applying (please watch this space for a live video on this topic in the next couple of weeks).
Whichever authority you are applying to, you will be required to submit evidence of an English Language Proficiency (ELP) assessment as part of your application.
But I’m English, why do I need to prove I can speak my own language?
For a licence to be valid, the EASA Flight Crew Licensing (FCL) regulations require that the pilot hold a qualification either in English or in the language in which communications take place. So if you are applying to, for example, Austria, unless you pass a German test, you must provide evidence that your level of English has been assessed by an approved body.
Each EASA Member State is free to make its own arrangements for English language testing, based on the requirements set out in FCL.055. Additionally, an ELP assessment carried out under the supervision of one Member State is accepted by all other EASA licensing authorities, in much the same way as a TRE approved by, say, Malta, can sign off an LPC for a pilot with a Spanish Licence.
Back in the days when the UK was still an EASA member, it complied with the language proficiency requirements in a very pragmatic way: in the vast majority of cases, where pilots where clearly native English speakers, a box marked « Level 6 (Expert) » was ticked to that effect on a flight test or radiotelephony test report, and the licence was issued accordingly. This system has continued post-Brexit. However, because the UK is no longer an EASA Member State, other European authorities can no longer accept English assessments performed under the UK system.
So how do I obtain an ELP Certificate for my EASA Licence?
A number of companies offer this service, either in person or remotely. These generally take two forms :
- « Live tests », either in person, or via video-conferencing, whereby an examiner will assess your English level via various discussion-based tasks
- « Robot tests » whereby you record yourself answering questions asked by a computer, and an examiner assesses your level based on the recording.
While any test taken under the approval of one EASA state should be acceptable to all the others, certain authorities, notable Ireland and Belgium, do not currently accept « robot » type tests.
The Lingaero team can organise you an EASA-Approved remote English test on request. Please feel free to contact us for more information.