ICAO Aviation English

ICAO Aviation English for Pilots and ATCOs

English Courses for Pilots and ATCOs

Aviation English Asia offer a complete range of courses to suit learners' English proficiency level and experience in aviation. The flexible structure of our courses and additional weekend Supplementary Classes will ensure that you get exactly the training that you need to surpass the standards of ICAO level 4/5.

English courses for Pilots and Air Traffic Controllers

ICAO Aviation English for Commercial Pilots - if you are pilot with a Commercial Pilot License (CPL) or Airline Transport Pilot License (ATPL) we recommend the ICAO Aviation English for Commercial Pilots course. This course overs ICAO levels 3, 4, 5 and 6 and features a range of topics of high interest to airline pilots, as suggested in ICAO Document 9835. The minimum course length is 10 units (officially 10 hours), and can be extended in stages of 10 units to 400 hours. Some online support and weekend workshops may also be offered if they suit your needs.

ICAO Aviation English for ATCOs - if you are a new, student, trainee, or currently working Air Traffic Controller we recommend this course covering ICAO levels 3, 4, 5 and 6. The syllabus features a range of topics suitable for Air Traffic Controllers as suggested in ICAO Document 9835. The minimum course length is 30 units (officially 30 hours) and can be extended in stages of 10 units as needed. Some online support and weekend workshops may also be offered if it suits your needs.

English courses for Ab initio, Low-hour and Pre-professional Pilots

English for PPL Ground School - this course is recommended for ab initio pilots (complete beginners). It covers the basics of aviation theory to prepare you for a Private Pilot License and practical flight training. This course is 12 hours and is also available as a Weekend Workshop. You don't need to attend expensive Ground School courses, but we do expect you to do a lot of self-study of the resources which we provide you. The course is based on either a FAA / CASA / or JAA syllabus depending on the instructor's experience.

ICAO Aviation English for Cadet Entry Pilots - this course has led to a of young people successfully starting a career in aviation through an airline's Cadet Pilot Programme. This is a 30-100 hour English course to achieve ICAO levels 4 and 5. The minimum course length is 30 units (30 hours) and typically students need 60-100 hours of practice to achieve their target level. The course syllabus is custom-designed to be suitable for learners with less than 250 hours of flying experience and features topics suggested in ICAO Document 9835. After completing 30 units, the course can be extended in stages of 10 units as needed. Some online support and weekend workshops may also be offered if they suit your needs.

Optional Supplementary Classes cover topics such as structure, pronunciation, fluency, interview skills, aviation theory, group assessments, flight planning and many more.

ICAO Aviation English Online - this course is currently being re-developed but some innovative learning resources may be offered. Airline Pilot Interview Preparation Online - this course is suitable for CPL holders who are preparing for an interview. For further details please select the appropriate option from the main menu.


This course is pre-approved by the HK Government's MATF (Maritime Aviation Training Fund) as reimbursable up to $18,000 HKD 

MATF Reimbursable

Professional training for ICAO Level 4+

Aviation English Asia Ltd has been providing highly focused classes for airline pilots and advising assessors on a candidate's suitability for retesting since 2009.  Our courses are designed based on the real-life language needs of pilots working within the region. Therefore this course was custom-developed by Aviation English Asia Ltd's highly qualified linguistic and experienced Subject Matter Experts to build genuine language proficiency.  


  1. Pilots must achieve and maintain a minimum of ICAO level 4, but many airlines require ICAO level 5/6 for command.
  2. Due to variation in test standards and validity, pilots rated at ICAO level 4 might not necessarily have the language proficiency to communicate with ease.
  3. Pilots who achieve only marginal ICAO level 4 are at risk of slipping to ICAO level 3, and consequently being grounded if their language proficiency deteriorates.
  4. Specialised remedial training when a pilot is grounded can be costly - requiring up to 200 hours of training to achieve proficiency.
  5. General English courses used as remedial training are neither effective nor motivating so ultimately poor value.
  6. It can be stressful to pilots and disruptive to operations when personnel are grounded - requiring 4-8 weeks to gain proficiency.
  7. Pilots from different parts of the world may have difficulty in understanding accents used by their colleagues and other aviation personnel working within the Asia region.
  8. Pilots even with high levels of proficiency may have difficulty identifying phraseology which deviates from ICAO standard phraseology.
  9. Pilots sometimes lack the social or soft skills to integrate into their airline's culture and work effectively with colleagues.


  1. AEA courses will help pilots surpass ICAO level 4 and achieve ICAO level 5/6 within a realistic timeframe.
  2. Aviation English Asia Ltd teachers can recognise and identify when a candidates proficiency varies from their test results* and can advise accordingly. 
  3. AEA courses are designed so that learners become self-aware of their limitations and consequently motivated to improve.
  4. AEA provide cost effective training (with up to $18,000 HKD reimbursable from the Maritime and Aviation Training Fund - MATF course code AC047).
  5. Highly qualified Aviation English instructors facilitate practice of the productive, receptive and interactive skills demanded by flight operations - including basic and advanced structures, and pronunciation practice within an aviation context with specific reference to the ICAO Language Proficiency Requirements. 
  6. Flexible schedule - AEA courses run 7 days per week and pilots can attend classes as their roster allows.
  7. Asia specific content which is highly relevant to pilots working in the region.
  8. AEA courses encourage the use of ICAO standard phraseology, and clear, concise and unambiguous communication. 
  9. AEA courses develop cultural awareness and sensitivity when dealing with other aviation personnel.

* Instead of an ambiguous rating of 4/5/6 for each of the ICAO language criteria the AEROSTA Framework Enhanced Proficiency Standards can specifically identify the ease with which a pilot can perform a communicative function.  The AEROSTA Framework fleshes out the skeleton of the ICAO Language Proficiency Requirements suggested in ICAO Document 9835.

Features and benefits

ICAO Aviation English for Commercial Pilots builds effective communication strategies for flight operations, which ultimately gives pilots the language skills needed to perform well in an ICAO English test.  Training with Aviation English Asia Ltd will give you:

  • Appropriate professional training that facilitates practice of standard phraseology in routine situations
  • Unique emphasis on practice of communicative functions so pilots can effectively manage routine and non-routine situations 
  • Develop skills relevant to each of the six ICAO language criteria - vocabulary, pronunciation, structure, comprehension, fluency, interactions
  • Interesting subject matter directly related to aviation operations and flight safety
  • Flexible schedule to meet your needs that can also be delivered onsite
  • Hundreds of hours of graded listening practice material which can be used for self-study
  • Course designed by highly qualified language experts in collaboration with aviation Subject Matter Experts
  • Course conforms to the AEROSTA Framework developed by the Aviation English Organisation
  • Ongoing progress reports based on the AEROSTA Enhanced Proficiency Standards 
  • Soft skills and relevant General English pilots need for everyday life
  • Private and group classes
  • Intensive course and accommodation available for overseas students
  • Hundreds of hours of listening comprehension exercises
  • Understand the limitations of ICAO test types
  • Learn what ICAO raters expect, their traps and how to avoid them.

Course description

ICAO Aviation English for Commercial Pilots course is skills based with activities and drills designed to ultimately help pilots achieve ICAO level 5+. The course conforms to recommendations of ICAO document 9835 and ICAO circular 323, and the AEROSTA Framework developed by the Aviation English Organisation.  ICAO Aviation English for Commercial Pilots focuses on proficiencies required for both safe RT and crew-member to crew-member communications.  As pilots attend each unit of the course our linguistic experts will assess their proficiency across all six ICAO criteria - Pronunciation, Structure, Vocabulary, Fluency, Comprehension, Interaction.  

Course content

Each unit focuses on routine procedures at one of their destination airports, or non-routine situation of relevance to commercial pilots, eg bird strike, engine failure, equipment failure, fuel planning, volcanic ash, crew time limitation.  Each unit includes pair and group work activities to increase pilots' ability to communicate effectively and safely in aviation.  The range of activities is very wide but includes:

  • Picture description
  • Listening comprehension of plain English in an aviation context, eg weather briefing, news report, personal experiences, interview, group discussion.
  • Pronunciation practice
  • Grammar drills and practice of relevant structures
  • Listening comprehension of pilot/controller dialogues in routine and non-routine situations.
  • Role play of pilot-controller / pilot-crewmember communications using both ICAO standard phraseology and plain English
  • Group discussion and debate on contentious topics affecting flight safety

All learners receive feedback and tailored advice on their language proficiency in each unit.

Topics and themes include

  • Aviation safety standards
  • Describing faults and damage
  • Crew Resource Management
  • Dangerous goods
  • Radiotelephony
  • Security
  • Career development
  • and many more..

Language functions include 

  • Phrasal verbs as used in an aviation context
  • Conjunctions
  • Complex descriptive phrases
  • Clarifying and requesting information
  • Describing hypothetical situations
  • Relative clauses

Course suitability

The course is effective in preparing candidates for all types of ICAO English test, but Aviation English Asia Ltd has thousands of hours experience in preparing candidates for tests at CX/KA, HKA/HKE, Eurocontrol ELPAC, RMIT RELTA, Versant VAET, TEA, ANAC, Latitude CLEAR, ASPEQ, MAS, PEPEC, so much so, that assessors often seek our feedback and guidance before we recommend a candidate for retesting.

Course prerequisites

  • Typical students are pilots with Hong Kong Airlines, Hong Kong Express, Cathay Pacific Airways, Cathay Dragon.
  • Any member of Hong Kong-based full-time airline or airport staff may apply for this course and will most likely be eligible for MATF reimbursement.
  • It is not necessary to hold a commercial pilot licence to enrol on this course.
  • If you are applying for a Cadet Pilot Programme and not current airline/airport staff then we recommend enrolling in the ICAO Aviation English for Cadet Entry Pilots course, which has a more regular schedule.

Enrolment procedure

In order to enrol on this course candidates must first attend a consultation. After attending a consultation you will receive expert guidance on your current level and difficulties and a recommendation for the duratiion of course you should enrol in, eg 30, 50, 60 or 100 hours.  

After completing the recommended number of training hours you will be well prepared for the ICAO test. 

Please call us on +852 8179 9295 for further details.


Do you intend to get a Private Pilot Licence (PPL) or take PPL theory exams overseas?

Develop your English language skills with AEA in Hong Kong

Aviation English Asia offer the English for PPL Ground School course to help learners develop practical language skills to perform well in PPL flight training courses.

Who is this course suitable for?

  1. This course is suitable for complete beginners (the latin word "ab initio" means from the beginning).
  2. This course is suitable for student pilots who are about to start a PPL flight training course conducted in English and need to improve their English proficiency.
  3. The course is also suitable for learners who want to improve their English before starting a PPL theory course.
  4. This core is suitable for learners who want to prepare for a Flight Grading or an ICAO English test for Cadet Entry Pilots.

You will also improve your understanding of technical vocabulary and aviation theory so that you will learn faster on the PPL theory course.  If you are thinking about taking a PPL theory course and are not sure if you can understand the English vocabulary in the text books, English for PPL Ground School is the best possible preparation.

Improve your English before you start flight training

The aim of this course is to give trainee pilots the opportunity to practice the English skills needed in aviation.  You will practice speaking and listening in an authentic aviation context, just as you would if you were in the cockpit.

After the course you will be able to use and understand common aviation terms in:Headset ICAO Aviation English | English for Pilots and ATCOs

  • Communication with air traffic control
  • Basic radio-telephony
  • Pilot and instructor interactions
  • Airport and aircraft features
  • Traffic patterns
  • ATIS
  • Basic principles of flight
  • Aircraft checks and checklists
  • Aviation weather forecasts
  • VFR navigation
  • Operations in controlled airspace

Please note that this course is designed to give you language skills for flight training and additional AEA courses may be necessary to reach ICAO level 4 or above.

Course duration:

12 units (officially 12 hours) in a convenient weekend workshop format (12 hours total - 4 x 3-hour sessions).

Entry requirements:

All students must be above the age of 17 years and have basic English proficiency.

Course fees:

One payment of $3000 HKD for 12 hours of small group class tuition. All course fees are payable in advance.

Course fee includes a FREE series of Private Pilot License Manuals.

Who are the teachers on the English for PPL Ground School course?

Aviation English Asia are committed to developing Excellence in Aviation language teaching.  We select our teachers very carefully and ensure that they have sufficient technical expertise to teach this course.  All teachers are:

  • QUALIFIED pilots and air traffic controllers, most from major Hong Kong-based airlines (Cathay Pacific Airways)
  • Native English Speakers (ICAO Level 6) from the UK and Australia.
  • With years of classroom based teaching experience
  • Experienced in teaching English for Aviation
  • Interested in your progress and career development
  • Supported by experienced ESL teachers and linguistic experts.

To find out more information about the English for PPL Ground School course please complete the Course Enquiry form >>>

You can also read our FAQ which contains lots of details about the English for PPL Ground School course and comparisons to our other ICAO English courses.

Pass a Cadet Pilot Programme ICAO English Test with a Level 5+ rating

Joining an airline's Cadet Pilot Programme is an ideal way to start a career as a pilot.  But being successful in each stage of the selection process is not easy.  If you are applying for an airline's Cadet Pilot Programme one of the most important things that you should prepare for is the ICAO English test. English proficiency is very important for safety in aviation, not just the test.  Many candidates are surprised to find that they lack the English proficiency to perform well in an ICAO test, despite studying overseas in English speaking countries for many years.

Here is the solution: We recommend that you start improving your English with our experienced Aviation English teachers BEFORE you apply.

Complete 30-100 hours of this course if you want to develop a GENUINE high level of proficiency in a Cadet Pilot Programme ICAO English test

Aviation English Asia Ltd offer the ICAO Aviation English for Cadet Entry Pilots course to help you achieve both success in gaining a cadetship and maintain safety in the air. This course has been taught in Hong Kong since 2009 and has helped a lot of candidates achieve success in gaining a cadetship. There is no other course provider with AEA's experience, credibility and reputation in Asia.

The only complete English course for Cadet Entry Pilots

ICAO Aviation English for Cadet Entry Pilots is suitable for you if you want to apply for an airline's cadet pilot programme and need to improve your English before proceeding with the application.   It's more effective, more affordable and more enjoyable than other English courses because it gives you intense practice of key language skills and vocabulary that you need for an aviation career.  If you are as passionate about aviation as our teachers you will love this course.

The communication strategies taught by Aviation English Asia are designed to give you intense practice of all the language skills needed for a career as a pilot, not just success in an airline's cadet entry ICAO English test.  You will learn unique skills that will give you a massive advantage over other candidates.

Each unit gives you practice of the following ICAO test key skills:

  • Pronunciation - advanced techniques to improve your pronunciation
  • Vocabulary - develop a wide aviation, technical and general vocabulary and paraphrasing skills
  • Structure - improve your grammar with effective drills and activities
  • Comprehension - listening and reading comprehension - specific to aviation
  • Fluency - organise your thoughts and ideas and express yourself clearly
  • Interaction - learn to respond appropriately in routine and non-routine situations


The course will help you improve your grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, comprehension and fluency, with the added advantage of giving you practice of the language needed for your career. This will help you stay motivated and you will enjoy learning English more because you have a clear objective. Aviation English Asia has an objective too - to help you become proficient at ICAO Level 5 and above.  After completing the recommended number of course units you will be well prepared for the ICAO test.

Benefits of the ICAO Aviation English for Cadet Entry Pilots courseICAO listening comprehension

  • You will have better pronunciation - with our unique exercises and drills.
  • You will be able to use grammar more accurately.
  • You will develop a wider vocabulary.
  • You will be able to understand different accents, phrasal verbs, idioms and slang.
  • You will be able to clearly report and handle non-routine situations.
  • You will be able to give effective presentations about technical subject matter.
  • You will be able to write accurate reports about malfunctions and unexpected events.
  • You will be able to understand radio transmissions by English speakers with unusual accents
  • You will be a safer pilot - with a wide range of vocabulary for unexpected situations.
  • You will be able to interact and respond to questions correctly.
  • You will be able to paraphrase if other people don't recognise your vocabulary or pronunciation.
  • You will reinforce your technical knowledge - if you think you know everything about aviation, you still need to be able to express it clearly.
  • You will save money by focusing more on what you need and less on what you don't need (ie boring academic English, IELTS).
  • You will meet and learn from other airline pilots.
  • You will have better general English even if you are ultimately not successful in an aviation career.


ICAO Aviation English for Cadet Entry Pilots

We make it easy for you to improve your English

Learning English with us is easy and enjoyable - no other course provider provides the same level of support as Aviation English Asia.

  • Professional Aviation English Teachers familiar with many different types of ICAO English test
  • Course fulfils the ICAO language proficiency requirements
  • Course content suitable for your experience level
  • Access to our online learning community with additional learning materials and resources
  • Flexible class times (choice of two weekday afternoons or three evening classes each week)
  • Flexible study schedules (30-100 hours taken over 15-90 weeks)
  • Flexible options for payment of course fees (pay as you go, every 10 units)
  • Classes held in a convenient location in Central or Jordan
  • Optional Supplementary Classes for learners who require additional help e.g, ICAO Pronunciation Workshops, Aviation Theory Workshops

Learn from PROFESSIONAL Aviation English Teachers, ATCs & airline pilot instructors

  • 100% Qualified Native English Teachers - previously holding senior positions at major language centres and universities
  • Teachers are supported by Subject Matter Experts - commercial pilots with major airlines and ATCs - ALSO qualified Native English Teachers
  • Teachers are members of the College of Teachers, established under Royal Charter in the UK.
  • Teachers are passionate about aviation, and want to see you succeed.
  • Course designed by a Cambridge examiner / university lecturer with an MA in Applied Linguistics
  • Course has thousands of hours of development time
  • On-going support throughout the selection process

The ICAO Aviation English for Cadet Entry Pilots course is proven to be effective

To date 100% of our students who have completed the recommended number of units have passed the ICAO English test and many have continued to success in the management interview and flight grading.  Please note that improving your English takes time and although intensive study has been proven to be effective it is unlikely that you will jump complete ICAO levels in just a few weeks. Therefore we recommend that you start improving your English early.

The complete course consists of 400 units in total. Each stage is divided into 10 units. The minimum number of stages is 10 (10 hours). The recommended number of units to go from ICAO level 3 to ICAO level 4 is 200.


Stage A Stage B Stage C Stage D Stage E

and more

until you are ready

for an ICAO test*

10 units 10 units 10 units 10 units 10 units  

How much does the ICAO Aviation English for Cadet Entry Pilots course cost?

Course fees depend on a number of factors so it is essential to arrange a consultation before starting a course.  Typically course fees are at market rate for General and Business English even though our courses require a lot more technical expertise to deliver.  Students who also take advantage of additional Weekend Workshops tend to achieve their target level faster.

Find out your level in a FREE CONSULTATION before you enrol on a course

It is very important that you take a course at the right level with specific focus on the areas which you need to improve.  During a consultation we will recommend the best study plan for you, taking into account the time available, your needs and your current level.

Retaking an ICAO English test? We will show you EXACTLY what to do to score ICAO level 4 and above

If you have taken the ICAO test before, Aviation English Asia can give you an independent assessment of your current level.  This is very important as your English ability might have changed since your assessment.

Serious about an aviation career?

Aviation English Asia deliver the highest quality and best value English courses available in Hong Kong.  We are motivated by your success and will support you in your English training needs every step of the way.  If you are serious about aviation you need our courses.

For more information please read the Frequently Asked Questions section here  

Call us on:  +852 8179 9295

or alternatively complete the contact request form to arrange a free consultation.


Information about ICAO Aviation English Online.

Hong Kong

Aviation English Asia has been offering part time and full time courses in Hong Kong since 2009.

All courses are available in Hong Kong. Check the schedule above for details.


Aviation English Asia has been offering part time courses in Vietnam since 2014.

All courses are available in Vietnam - typically every 8 weeks, or by special arrangement.


ICAO Aviation English, English for Aircraft Maintenance Engineers, Technicians and Mechanics, and English for Flight Attendants are available in Taipei, Tainan and Kaosiung.


Aviation English Asia has been offering part time and full time courses in Cambodia since July 2018

All courses are available in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Check the schedule for details.

 Aviation English



Call us for a free consultation

+852 8179 9295



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