The International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations (IAOPA) and the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI ) joined together at the 36th ICAO Assembly to advocate more reasonable language proficiency standards for pilots operating under visual flight rules (VFR).

In a joint working paper presented to the Assembly the two organisations requested a delay in implementing in the new language proficiency standards, a requirement to make States report their progress toward full language proficiency compliance and a reduction in the stringency of the standards for VFR operations.

Under ICAO standards on 5 March 2008 all pilots will be required to demonstrate a high level of language proficiency when they fly internationally. While this level of proficiency may be justified for pilots operating under instrument flight rules (IFR) the communications requirements for VFR operations are less complex and demanding. The impact of the existing high level of language proficiency on world general aviation will prove unjustifiably costly and burdensome should the new standard be allowed to stand.

In a joint statement FAI President Pierre Portmann and IAOPA President Phil Boyer said, “We are pleased that the Assembly effectively delayed the language proficiency compliance date for three years and encouraged States to review their VFR communications requirements to determine whether they justify the high ICAO standard. We thank the Assembly for hearing our request and acting equitably. We look forward to working with the ICAO Secretariat on the substantive aspects of this issue.”

IAOPA and FAI represent the interests of more than one million general aviation pilots and aircraft owners in 88 countries.