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Language test for airline and airport service staff

Employees in an aviation service role a good level of English in order to communicate with a diverse range of passengers and colleagues. Inadequate English proficiency can complicate communications and lead to costly misunderstandings.  It can also prevent employees from making progress in their careers.  

General and Academic English tests such as TOEFL, IELTS and TOEIC are inappropriate for testing language proficiency of airline/airport customer service staff as they do not test important skills within the context of aviation service, so the results are less meaningful as a measure of language proficiency.  They do not measure the skills that are required for interaction with colleagues and air passengers. The content of General and Academic English test is not relevant to airport service providers and preparation for those types of test can be expensive and time consuming.

The AEROSTA Framework Service Language Test is an accurate test of language proficiency for in airline and airport customer service staff. 

The AEROSTA Framework Service Language Test was developed by Aviation English Asia Ltd based on experience of real life language related miscommunication among customer service staff. The test has been placed in the hands of the Aviation English Organisation to be administered worldwide as a recognised, universal, valid and standardised language test.  The test is available to corporate customers. An automated computer-based version of the test is expected to be available from late 2018.

The AEROSTA Framework Service Language Test measures the specific reading, listening, and oral proficiency skills required to successfully perform frontline duties in English.  The test is concerned with determining genuine language proficiency through appropriateresponses, regardless of whether a response is factually or grammatically correct.


The AEROSTA Framework Service Language Test is available as both a Placement Test, and as a Proficiency Test.  The purposes of the two tests are different.  There are also formats for individual and group simultaneous assessments. 

  1. The Placement Test enables airlines, airports and related organisations to identify employees who would benefit from English language training. The Placement Test identifies starting level, and specific difficulties with pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar and listening comprehension.  The Placement Test can be used to group candidates with similar levels of proficiency. If an employee lacks sufficient proficiency, then remedial training can be provided. 
  2. The Proficiency Test identifies if an employee canconsistently perform workplace-related language tasks effectively in English. The purpose of the test is to verify that employees have sufficient English language proficiency in order to perform their duties. The Proficiency Test can also be used as a check and balance to make sure that training provided has been effective.

As a matter of best practice, the Placement Test is recommended before starting a language development course, and the Proficiency Test is recommended after completing a course.

The AEROSTA Framework Service Language Test is offered to airports and airlines an internal testing solution.  

Test format

The AEROSTA Framework Service Language Test measures the specific reading, listening, and oral proficiency skills required to successfully perform frontline duties in English.  The test is concerned with determining genuine language proficiency through appropriate responses, regardless of whether a response is factually or grammatically correct.

Candidates are fully briefed about the test format before they take the test.  The brochure AEROSTA Framework - Information for Stakeholders contains test procedures.

The test has four parts, paper 1, paper 2 and paper 3. Parts can be omitted depending on budget and time available to conduct each assessment.

Paper 1 is the Interactions test. It typically takes 15 minutes. Candidates are asked to read an appropriate response to a prompt. This test reveals difficulties in pronunciation, structure, listening comprehension, fluency and interaction. 

Paper 2 is an oral interview which takes 5-10 minutes. It can only be conducted individually.

Paper 3 is a series of short listening comprehension activities which takes about 10 minutes. It can be conducted individually or within a group.


Reliability is a measure of candidates of equal ability receiving the same scores, or of receiving the same scores if retested. Validity is the extent to which a test measures what it is intended to measure. It relates to the uses of test scores and the ways in which test scores are interpreted. During the test design phase consideration was given to ensure that:

    • Users of the test believe that the test is appropriate.

    • Performance in the test can be interpreted as a measure of language proficiency.

    • The test content is relevant to the purpose of the test.

    • Performance is predictive of performance in non-test environment.

Language in the Interactions and Written Test

Both the prompts and responses contain flight training-related vocabulary graded according to their frequency of use and technicality. High frequency words may include times, dates and locations eg instruments, ramp. Low frequency words may include words such as components, ADIRU, the underside of the starboard wing, country names, chipped. The prompts and responses contain a selection of basic, and complex structures. All vocabulary and structures are directly related within range expected of cadet pilots.

Pronunciation of high frequency workplace-related vocabulary and grammatical structures is tested with reference to the ease of understanding on the part of the listener, regardless of accent.


A Certificate of Proficiency is generated for each candidate. The Candidate Test Report will indicate the following:

  • If language is a serious obstacleto performing airline/airport customer service duties. Further language training is essential.
  • If language is likely to be an obstacleto performing airline/airport customer service duties. Training is beneficial and will facilitate a faster flow of happy passengers.
  • If language is unlikely to be an obstacleto performing duties. Training is not urgently required but may be undertaken in order to facilitate more effective communication.

Scores are aligned to the Common European Framework of Reference, and a series of CAN DO statements are generated for each candidate. A Progress Report is generated for the entire group with two paragraphs of feedback per candidate.


CEFR A1 (80-120)


CEFR A2 (120-140)


CEFR B1 (140-160)


CEFR B2 (160-180)

CEFR C1 (180-210

CEFR C2 (210-230)



BULATS: 20-39 IELTS: 3.0 TOEFL: 337-459 TOEIC: 225-549

BULATS: 40-59 points IELTS: 4.0 - 4.5 points TOEFL: 460-542 points TOEIC: 550- 784 points

BULATS: 60-74 points IELTS: 5.0 – 6.0 points TOEFL: 543- 626 points TOEIC: 785-944 points

BULATS: 75-89 points IELTS: 6.0 - 7.0 points TOEFL: 627 points TOEIC: 945 points

BULATS: 90-100 IELTS: 7-9



For candidates who score less than CEFR B1 in the AEROSTA Framework Service Language Test it is recommended that they take additional Supplementary Classes eg Pronunciation and Grammar and review the course material before retaking the test. 


For more information about AEROSTA visit



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.


Member of the Aviation English Organisation


matf AEROSTA Framework Service Language test -


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