• “In English, please !” by Patrick Milward

    We are very lucky to work in a fabulously interesting industry. For one, the mix of origins of flight is the birthmark of human flying.

    It is widely recognized the first human powered flight was made by the Wright Brothers at Kittyhawk, North Carolina, in the United States. From that day on, the country became an aeronautical heaven. But Europe was hot in pursuit in this race and France, in particular, kicked in at full speed with names eternally associated to aeronautical pioneering: Blériot, Deperdussin, Farman, …

    The rest of Europe was not in the shadows either: Germany, England, Italy, the Netherlands. All had their flying heroes. 

    In short, there were many good fairies around powered flight’s crib.

    Over the following decades, with an acceleration after World War II, it became evident the English language was the common language of the business. First for all formal procedures, manuals and instructions. But only more recently for all the other vocal exchanges within the cockpit. With the advent of low-cost airlines hiring many pilots from many different countries, English has become the undisputed norm even for chit chat in the cockpit. The mix of citizenships on board any average commercial flight made this mandatory.

    That is why, at Astonfly, Integrated ATPL training is done in English. That is why an English test is given to every new applicant.
    But more often than not, we are faced with young candidates whose knowledge of English is clearly way over par. Not good enough, for the non-golfers.

    Even if we did the training in French, the ability for these future pilots to find a job would be close to nil. And that is the true goal of any serious training center. At Astonfly’s we love training professionals but training them and giving them a better chance to find their first seat in a cockpit is the true goal.

    Future pilots! If I have one major advice for you it is this: 


    Be fluent in English, get tested by recognized professionals. Before you even come close to a professional pilot training center, make sure your English is at minimum a C1 level on the European language proficiency standard.

    Hard work and dedication will give you a very good level with purely aeronautical training, but lack of basic English could block you from a job. You can also have fun learning. For example, from now on only watch anglo-saxon television programs in English with no subtitles. You’ll get your entertainment and learn at the same time. Another tip: tune in to the BBC on internet and let it play in your daily background. Without realizing it you will rapidly be picking up more and more words and soon you will understand the commentators. Learning English is not that difficult, it will essentially require dedication.

    Read English, listen to English and most of all SPEAK English.

    At worst, if flying does not become a reality, you will have gained a tool for your lifetime.

    At best, you will be a proficient professional pilot.

    Future pilots, start working on your English and remember …

    … In English please !

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