You are here

Aviation English

Our partners

Our partners around the world deliver our training and testing solutions, including RELTA. Each partner that becomes a RELTA test centre enters into an agreement with RMIT Training and is endorsed by their local civil aviation authority.


For more information about becoming a partner or a RELTA test centre, please email us at

Case studies

Algerian Civil Aviation Authority and Language Solutions Algeria


Algeria’s aviation industry is growing at a rate of over 12% per year. Passenger traffic for both domestic and international flights is significantly increasing. Algeria controls a large airspace with overhead traffic from both the Middle East and Europe.

Language Solutions Algeria is a prestigious English language training organisation that implements a variety of language training and testing products from providers such as IELTS, Cambridge University and RMIT Training.


Algeria’s Civil Aviation Authority recognised the need to improve the English language proficiency of the pilots of its national and domestic carriers and its air traffic controllers.

It also needed to increase its capability to train and test personnel in order to meet the ICAO Language Proficiency Requirements, which would help ensure safe passage for international carriers and enable its national carrier to increase its networks internationally.


RMIT English Worldwide sought out the best language training partner to provide a strategic fit for Algeria’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), and found Language Solutions Algeria (LSA).

We then worked with both organisations to analyse the specific language needs of their aviation personnel.

A tailored program incorporating our General English for Aviation and Radiotelephony English training products was developed for LSA.

In addition, we created a test centre to deliver RELTA. RMIT English Worldwide and LSA continue to provide English language support to the aviation industry in Algeria.

Oman Aircraft Control College


Oman Aircraft Control College is a joint civil and military training college located in Muscat that provides air traffic control, air defence and ancillary training at all levels.


Most of the training at the college is delivered in English, and participants need to have a good grasp of the English language to achieve the best results. 

All graduates from the college are expected to meet the ICAO Language Proficiency Requirements.


Participants build their English language proficiency by doing our General English for Aviation course along with their other studies.

We trained the College’s team of Aviation English trainers to deliver the course.

Graduating students sit RELTA to attain their ICAO English language proficiency licensing requirement.

Qatar Airways


Qatar’s national carrier needed to expand its network of international destinations to meet its goal of becoming one of the world’s most renowned airlines.

Its Civil Aviation Authority had not yet endorsed an Aviation English test to enable its aviation personnel to fulfil the ICAO Language Proficiency Requirements.


Qatar Airways employs pilots with different international backgrounds and varying levels of English language proficiency. They required a flexible and reliable test to check whether their pilots met ICAO’s Language Proficiency Requirements.


RMIT English Worldwide worked with Qatar Airways to successfully demonstrate the validity and reliability of RELTA, which ensured its endorsement from the civil aviation authority.

We created a RELTA test centre at Qatar Airways and provided training for Qatar Airways’ own RELTA examiners and raters. Within 4 months of receiving endorsement from the Civil Aviation Authority, all pilots from Qatar Airways had been tested.

Russian Civil Aviation Authority and the Moscow Aviation Institute (MAI)


MAI is a premier engineering university dedicated to aerospace technologies and training. Russian aviation personnel typically had low levels of English language proficiency.


The industry recognised that this low level of English language proficiency posed a serious safety risk, and also impacted on the ability of its carriers and pilots to work outside of Russia.

MAI needed a holistic training and testing solution for pilots and air traffic controllers to improve their proficiency to an operational level, and an internationally recognised test that proved their compliance with the ICAO Language Proficiency Requirements.

Recognising the effects of language erosion, MAI also identified the need for recurrent training of aviation personnel after they had been tested, and to prepare for their next Aviation English test.


RMIT English Worldwide worked with MAI to deliver a training program that helped over 2000 pilots and air traffic controllers develop their proficiency to ICAO Level 4 (Operational), and in some cases Level 5 (Extended).

We created a RELTA test centre at MAI and developed a recurrent training program that provides Beyond Level 4 training. These steps ensure aviation personnel can maintain their English language proficiency between tests as well as prepare for their next test.



Terrindo is an organisation in Jakarta, Indonesia that provides training solutions to a broad range of industries. Their work with the aviation industry focuses on providing Aviation English courses to airport personnel.


A wide variety of airport personnel, from management to fire fighters and customer service representatives, need English for professional purposes.


RMIT English Worldwide worked with Terrindo and airport management to tailor Aviation English courses for specific purposes using our General English for Aviation course materials.

We provided Aviation English trainers to deliver intensive courses over 5 and 10 day periods. We also trained local teachers to deliver the courses in future.

For authorities

Administration of RELTA

Academic Team

The Academic Team is responsible for the development and validation of RELTA. The Academic Manager oversees the development work undertaken by the Senior Curriculum Writer (Aviation), the Senior Assessment Developer and consulting aviation subject matter experts. The Senior Curriculum Writer (Aviation) is responsible for setting the standards for and maintaining the integrity of test items.

Aviation Operations Team

The Aviation Operations Team is responsible for ensuring the quality control of RELTA and other Aviation English products, supporting customers, and delivering tests and courses in conjunction with our partners worldwide. The Team’s responsibilities are outlined in the agreement between RMIT Training and each RELTA test centre partner.

The Team also oversees protocol and procedure, security, record keeping and finalisation of results, and administers and provides accreditation for all examiners and raters. Any breaches of protocol that may occur during test delivery are immediately reported to the Team by raters via our secure records management database.

The Team oversees regular audits of test centres to ensure compliance. It also organises, administers and maintains documentation on the training, reaccreditation and auditing of RELTA examiners and raters, as applicable.

Obligations of our partners

To obtain and maintain the right to deliver RELTA, partners must comply with the RELTA Test centre administration manual and our quality assurance review.

The RELTA Test centre administration manual outlines the:

  • requirements of managing the delivery of RELTA
  • operational policies, systems and procedures
  • quality assurance review processes and standards.

Partners are required to follow the RELTA Test centre administration manual at all times to ensure the quality of test delivery.

Our quality assurance review process monitors compliance and helps partners identify areas that may need improvement. This process, designed as a checklist, allows RMIT English Worldwide and our partners to assess compliance with the key responsibilities of each party and ensure that standards for maintaining quality in the delivery of RELTA are being met. All aspects of test delivery are included in the standards, including personnel and their responsibilities, test administration, security and facilities. During the review process, objective information is collected to determine the status of systems, areas of responsibility and general areas of quality. Areas that require attention are identified so that preventative and remedial action can be taken.

Test centre personnel

All personnel involved with RELTA must sign the RELTA Code of conduct acknowledging their responsibilities in relation to test integrity and security.

Test centre managers and administrative personnel are responsible for:

  • carrying out administrative duties according to the RELTA Test centre administration manual
  • liaising between the test centre and RMIT English Worldwide regarding test dates and candidate numbers
  • responding to enquiries
  • coordinating, registering and processing candidate applications.

Training in the use of the secure records management database is provided to selected test centre personnel prior to the test centre becoming operational.

RELTA examiners

RELTA examiners are responsible for administering the Listening Test and Speaking Test. Examiners may also be accredited raters.

Examiners must be suitably qualified and are required to follow the RELTA Code of conduct, which includes the signing of a confidentiality agreement. All examiners undergo training in RELTA and, if applicable, radiotelephony induction before they can administer RELTA. Examiners are subject to regular reviews and, to maintain their accreditation, are required to participate in recurrent RELTA training. Examiners must be reaccredited every 12 months.

All training for examiners is conducted by fully accredited RELTA trainers. Test centre managers may be trained to deliver training to examiners in order to maintain a sustainable pool of local examiners. Training packs and schedules have been developed to ensure training is delivered thoroughly and consistently in all locations around the world.

RELTA raters

RELTA raters are responsible for rating the performance of candidates after the Speaking Test has been administered. Accredited raters may also be examiners.

Raters must be suitably qualified and are required to follow the RELTA Code of conduct, which includes the signing of a confidentiality agreement. All raters undergo training in RELTA and, if applicable, radiotelephony induction before they can rate RELTA.

Raters are required to undergo a review and be reaccredited in turn every year, i.e. review (2010), reaccreditation (2011), review (2012) and so on. The performance of raters is also subject to regular monitoring and auditing to ensure consistent application of ICAO rating levels as well as intra- and inter-rater reliability. If necessary, coaching and re-training is provided to raters found not to be conforming to required standards.

All training for raters is conducted by fully accredited RELTA trainers. All training of raters is conducted by senior RELTA representatives. Training packs and schedules have been developed to ensure training is delivered thoroughly and consistently in all locations around the world.

Test format

RELTA comprises a Listening Test and a Speaking Test. Both tests must be completed.

  • The Listening Test is delivered by a computer and takes 35–50 minutes.
  • The Speaking Test is delivered by an examiner and takes 25–30 minutes.
RELTA Listening Test

There are three sections in the Listening Test.

  • In Section 1, candidates hear pilots and air traffic controllers talking about routine situations. Candidates answer multiple choice questions based on these conversations.
  • In Section 2, candidates hear pilots and air traffic controllers talking about non-routine situations. Candidates type their answers to questions based on these conversations in the spaces provided.
  • In Section 3, candidates hear aviation personnel debriefing after an incident has occurred. Candidates answer multiple choice questions based on this conversation.

Accents used in the Listening Test include American, Australian, Brazilian, British, Canadian, Filipino, Indian, Indonesian and Italian.

Section 1 Routine situations
  • 10 multiple choice questions
  • 1 question per recording
Section 2 Non-routine situations RELTA for Pilots Heavy (IFR) and RELTA for Light Aircraft (VFR)
  • 10 short answer (gap fill) questions
  • 1 question per recording


  • 10 multiple choice questions
  • 2 questions per recording
Section 3 Post-incident debriefing
  • 10 multiple choice questions
  • 2 questions per recording

Candidates can familiarise themselves with the test format by using the free RELTA Listening Practice Test. Support materials include answers and transcripts.

RELTA Speaking Test

There are three sections in the Speaking Test.

  • In Section 1 and Section 2, the candidate communicates with the RELTA examiner using phraseology and plain English. The candidate’s ability to communicate is evaluated (not their use of ICAO standardised phraseology).
  • In Section 3, the candidate communicates using plain English in a face to face conversation with the RELTA examiner. This is the candidate’s opportunity to talk about the non-routine situation presented in Section 2, and to discuss their experiences, ideas and opinions on aviation related topics. The candidate’s ability to communicate is evaluated (not their aviation knowledge).
Section 1 Routine situations Role-play of a routine radiotelephony communication
Section 2 Non-routine situations Role-play of a non-routine radiotelephony communication
Section 3 Interview
  • Interview related to Section 2’s non-routine situation
  • Discussion about the candidate’s experiences, ideas and opinions on aviation related topics

Candidates can familiarise themselves with the test format by using the free RELTA Speaking Practice Test. Support materials include sample answers and transcripts.

Sitting RELTA


Test centre managers are responsible for scheduling tests according to the availability of resources and internal requirements, and notify the Aviation Operations Team at RMIT English Worldwide of the test days, type of test and number of candidates per test by creating classes and assigning candidates in the secure records management database. (For more information, please see Records management.)

Test centre managers are also responsible for assigning RELTA examiners to the test and checking that the test rooms are set up and equipment is operating correctly.

Records management

RMIT English Worldwide uses its own Student Results Management System (SRMS) to:

  • add candidates to RELTA test sessions
  • monitor candidates enrolled in test sessions
  • release randomly assigned test versions to registered candidates
  • produce results and certificates that can be assesssed by test centre managers and provided to RELTA candidates
  • keep a permanent record of all test takers and results.

The SRMS is a web enabled application that has been specifically tailored for RELTA.

Test centre managers or administrators ensure that candidates’ details are correctly entered into the SRMS. Mandatory information required by the system includes each candidate’s given name, family name, date of birth and licence number.

Assessment and scoring
RELTA Listening Test

As the Listening Test is delivered by computer, scores are assigned automatically and uploaded to our secure database. Where there is a query in a response, members of the Academic Team are alerted to determine the result.

RELTA Speaking Test

Candidates’ sound files are recorded and uploaded to our secure database. Two RELTA raters are assigned to assess one test. Each rater listens to the candidate’s recording, rates each speech sample and enters their scores for each section of the test separately. Raters listen to each speech sample as many times as they need to before entering a score. The database then automatically crosschecks the scores given by each of the two raters and detects any differences that would alter the candidate’s overall scores. When this occurs, a third rater is assigned to determine the overall score.


RELTA results are made available once all assessment processes have been completed, and can be provided to the local civil aviation authority, airline or air navigation service provider by the test centre manager as required. RMIT English Worldwide can arrange for these organisations to review results online if required. Candidates can also access their results online by entering their date of birth and licence number.

Certificates (known as RELTA Results Statements) can be obtained by the test centre manager once results are finalised. RMIT English Worldwide does not issue certificates.

Complaints and appeals process

Test centre managers are required to inform all candidates about the complaints and appeals process.

Making a complaint

Candidates who wish to lodge a complaint concerning the delivery of RELTA should complete a RELTA Candidate complaint form and submit it to the test centre manager, who then conducts an investigation of the complaint. The test centre manager must notify the Aviation Operations Team at RMIT English Worldwide about the complaint and of the result of the investigation.

Lodging an appeal

Candidates who wish to request a reassessment of their performance in RELTA may lodge an appeal by completing the RELTA Candidate appeals form. The form must be signed by the test centre manager of the test centre where the candidate sat the test. Once it is completed, the form is then sent to the Aviation Operations Team at RMIT English Worldwide.

All appeals must be received by the Aviation Operations Team within 21 days of the RELTA result being made available to the candidate.

Candidates are required to pay a fee of A$75 to lodge the appeal, which will be refunded if the appeal is upheld by the independent assessor.

Test validity, reliability and security


The validity of a test is achieved when the test instrument accurately measures what it intends to measure. RELTA intends to measure a range of abilities in speaking and understanding English in an aviation context. These abilities can be described by functionality, such as requesting permission and giving information, and by lexical topics and themes, such as weather and geography. In order to measure these abilities, RELTA tasks are written using language that closely resembles the language used in aviation, such as in radiotelephony exchanges between pilots and air traffic controllers, and in debriefing sessions with a supervisor. Test design ensures that RELTA tasks and content accurately represent the target language use domain; that is, the setting in which this language is used.

Based on the evidence of a number of studies conducted by RMIT English Worldwide, RELTA has been found to be a valid test of Aviation English. In 2014, the RELTA Validity Argument Framework was presented to ICAO. This framework provided evidence- and theory-based investigations of RELTA, including how domains are defined, how tasks perform, methods of scoring and interpreting scores. In 2015, RMIT English Worldwide conducted an analysis of the Speaking Test to determine the extent to which the test elicits language commonly found in aviation contexts. The results showed that the visual prompts used in the test, which guide test takers from one scenario to the next, elicited a sufficient range of both functions and lexis.

Before releasing any RELTA test, RMIT English Worldwide arranges for both native and non-native English speaking pilots to trial the test, and then provide feedback on how relevant and accessible the scenarios and tasks are, and how difficult they found the questions. This feedback is used to revise and improve tests before their release.


To achieve a high degree of reliability, RMIT English Worldwide ensures that all RELTA raters are suitably qualified and trained to assess plain English used in aviation contexts. It is compulsory for all raters to be reaccredited biennially. All Speaking tests are rated separately by two raters, with an experienced third rater used in cases where there is disagreement between the first two raters. All Listening tests are statistically analysed and reliability is measured and evaluated. Tests that do not meet minimum levels of reliability are revised accordingly. The performance of raters is regularly monitored and analysed to identify both under- and high-performing raters. Any underperforming raters are required to undergo further training.


The security of RMIT English Worldwide’s intellectual property and RELTA test materials is strenuously upheld at all times. Any person involved in the delivery of RELTA must be registered with the test centre manager and have signed the RELTA Code of conduct undertaking to maintain security and confidentiality in relation to test administration and records management. Overall responsibility for the security of the test centre rests with the test centre manager supported by the examiners and any other personnel involved in the administration of RELTA.

If there is a security breach at a test centre, the test centre manager is required to immediately notify the Aviation Operations Team at RMIT English Worldwide.

Versions of RELTA are randomly assigned from a pool of over 80 tests for each test type and are protected by a software protocol. The online delivery system is fully protected to ensure the security of test versions.

Candidates found cheating on any test will not be allowed to continue the test. Activities considered as cheating include:

  • looking at another candidate’s computer screen during the Listening Test
  • talking to another candidate during testing
  • taking any written notes into or out of the test room
  • using any aid.

The test centre manager is required to immediately notify the Aviation Operations Team at RMIT English Worldwide if such an incident occurs. Candidates found cheating are not issued a result and are reported to their organisation’s management.

Test design

RELTA has been designed in response to the ICAO Language Proficiency Requirements as outlined in the Manual on the Implementation of ICAO Language Proficiency Requirements (Document 9835) and Annexes 1, 6 and 11 of the ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices. (For more information, please see the ICAO website.)

According to Document 9835, a test used to assess language for ICAO should:

  • be aviation specific (not assess general English proficiency) and be related to the language of radiotelephony which pilots and air traffic controllers use in their work
  • assess language based on the six core language skill areas identified by ICAO—pronunciation, structure, vocabulary, fluency, comprehension and interactions
  • not assess a knowledge of phraseology, but must assess communicative ability in both voice only and face to face contexts
  • assess listening and speaking skills directly (not assess language knowledge or reading and writing ability).

RELTA is practical. It is easy to administer, with simple and efficient pre-test, in test and post-test administration procedures in place to facilitate test delivery, security and reporting efficiency.

The structure of RELTA, the forms of language assessed and the rating processes followed all reflect ICAO’s Language Proficiency Requirements and Standards and Recommended Practices. RELTA is dedicated to assessing communicative proficiency in aeronautical radiotelephony communications.

Test development

The test development team consists of specialists in the following areas:

  • subject matter expertise (pilots and air traffic controllers, specialist aviation consultants with dual pilot and ATC experience)
  • testing (experts with post graduate qualifications in applied linguistics and psychology)
  • test item writing (qualified and experienced curriculum and assessment writers)
  • test development (instructional and graphic designers, editors and audio producers).

Test situations are fictitious but based on real life incidents and accidents to elicit more complex plain language. Scripts are drafted by aviation subject matter experts to ensure authenticity and plausibility. Test items are then written by experienced assessment writers who specialise in developing RMIT English Worldwide’s Aviation English testing materials. Item writing checklists have been developed to maintain a consistent approach to test development. Our subject matter experts review all stages of test development to ensure plausibility is maintained throughout the process.

RELTA test impact

The RELTA test construct samples a wide, yet defined, range of communicative tasks, skills and content that are representative of aviation work contexts in its three streams:

  • Pilots Heavy (IFR)
  • Light Aircraft (VFR)
  • ATC.

To study and prepare for RELTA is tantamount to developing relevant and critical communication skills in situations that are familiar to the candidates. Little benefit would be gained from a preparation plan that focused on testing strategies or discrete components of linguistic knowledge. RELTA is expected to provide positive washback in that the test design itself promotes effective and valid learning practices in society, particularly educational environments concerned with the improvement of language proficiency for pilots and air traffic controllers. 

RELTA Code of Ethics

RELTA language testers comply with the Code of Ethics adopted by the International Language Testing Association. The nine fundamental principles of the Code inform the RELTA Code of Conduct and are manifest through rigorous standards of test security, validity, transparency and candidate confidentiality. These standards are supported by our ongoing professional development and insistence on conscionable language testing practice.

RELTA test security is manifold and applied without exception. Validity is pursued through:

  • trialling
  • analysis
  • engagement of SMEs
  • responsiveness to feedback
  • monitoring activities
  • currency with language testing research
  • test security.

Transparency for test takers is achieved through:

  • practice tests and test information on the RMIT English Worldwide website
  • RELTA’s adherence to ICAO Document 9835
  • test information printed in trialled, graded language.

Transparency for the participants, whose participation in research activities is always voluntary, is achieved through clear, accessible statements of the purpose and scope of those activities. Candidate confidentiality is ensured through the analysis of all trial and test results in aggregate; uniform blind rating; and strict information management. These standards and their realisation through the Code of Conduct promote equity between all test takers, the protection of their dignity, and the just allocation of RELTA services; proscribe malfeasance among RELTA personnel; and, more broadly, contribute to the integrity of the language testing profession.

Administration of RESET

RESET assessors observe pilots and air traffic controllers at work to determine whether the items contained in the RESET checklist of English language proficiency have been satisfied for ICAO Level 6 (Expert) competency. Supplementary tasks are provided in circumstances where additional evidence of language performance is required to satisfy ICAO’s requirements of proficiency in plain English. These tasks are included in the RESET Assessor handbook.

Assessors are trained to conduct the observation and complete the checklist, and to deliver the supplementary tasks if required.

RMIT English Worldwide accredits all approved organisations and assessors to administer RESET.


All results are forwarded to RMIT English Worldwide through a secure records management database, then certified by RMIT English Worldwide and officially released to parties concerned. Results can be presented either as individual RESET certificates or a RESET performance assessment report.

Quality assurance

To maintain their accreditation, RMIT English Worldwide conducts regular audits of RESET organisations by agreement to ensure assessors are consistently applying the RESET checklist and delivering the supplementary tasks. RESET assessors are also required to assess speech samples provided by RMIT English Worldwide to maintain assessor reliability.

Why RMIT English Worldwide?

We have worked with the international aviation industry for over 20 years. Our team of writers, English language experts, aviation subject matter experts and production specialists all work together to ensure sound pedagogy and assessment.

We are committed to working with your organisation to tailor an effective Aviation English language program to meet your specific needs, and minimise your costs and disruption to staffing schedules.

We work with you to determine the Aviation English language skills your personnel need to develop to:

  • attend meetings, conferences or training courses
  • read manuals or follow written instructions
  • speak with other aviation professionals or the public to perform their duties
  • write emails or speak on the telephone
  • meet a level of English language proficiency for licensing purposes.

For more information, please email us at with your enquiry.

Why is English language proficiency important?

These extracts from ICAO’s Manual on the Implementation of ICAO Language Proficiency Requirements explain why ICAO strengthened its language proficiency requirements.

  1. Background to strengthened ICAO Language Proficiency Requirements


      Over 800 people lost their lives in three major accidents (one collision on the ground, one accident involving fuel exhaustion and one controlled flight into terrain). In each of these seemingly different types of accidents, accident investigators found a common contributing element: insufficient English language proficiency on the part of the flight crew or a controller had played a contributing role in the chain of events leading to the accident. In addition to these high-profile accidents, multiple incidents and near misses are reported annually as a result of language problems, instigating a review of communication procedures and standards worldwide. Such concern was heightened after a 1996 mid-air collision in which 349 passengers and crew members were killed in an accident in which insufficient English language proficiency played a contributing role.


      Accident investigators usually uncover a chain of events lining up in an unfortunate order and finally causing an accident. In some instances, the use (or misuse) of language contributes directly or indirectly to an accident.

      At other times, language is a link in the chain of events which exacerbates the problem. There are three ways that language can be a contributing factor in accidents and incidents:

      1. incorrect use of standardized phraseologies;
      2. lack of plain language proficiency;
      3. and the use of more than one language in the same airspace.
    3. Incorrect use of standardized phraseologies.

      The purpose of phraseologies is to provide clear, concise, unambiguous language to communicate messages of a routine nature. One study of real en-route radiotelephony communications (Mell 1992) revealed that 70 per cent of all speech acts uttered by native and non-native speakers, and for which a phraseology is prescribed, are not compliant with the recognized standards. For phraseologies to have the most significant safety impact, all parties need to use ICAO standardized phraseology … while ICAO standardized phraseology has been developed to cover many circumstances, it cannot address all pilot and controller communication needs. It is widely acknowledged by operational and linguistic experts that no set of standardized phraseologies can fully describe all possible circumstances and responses.

    4. Lack of plain language proficiency.

      This is often cited as having played a contributing role in some accidents. In one example, the controller last in contact with the unilingual English-speaking crew which strayed off course and crashed into a mountainside acknowledged to accident investigators that the flight’s position reports were incongruent with where he understood their position to be. However, by his own admission, he lacked plain English proficiency to clarify his doubts or to notify the crew that they were off course.

    5. The use of two languages in the same airspace.

      This can have an impact on the situational awareness of flight crews who do not understand all the languages used for radiotelephony in that airspace and has been cited in several accident reports as a contributing factor.


      While the focus of ICAO language proficiency requirements is on improved aeronautical radiotelephony communications, language also plays a role in cockpit resource management (CRM) and has been cited as a contributing factor in incidents/accidents where miscommunication happened within a flight crew. By meeting language proficiency requirements, flight crews, especially multi-national flight crews, will have the added safety benefit of better CRM.


      Concern over the role of language in aviation accidents and incidents has been expressed from several quarters. Data obtained from the ICAO Accident/Incident Data Reporting System (ADREP) database, United States National Transportation and Safety Board reports (ASRS), the United Kingdom Mandatory Occurrence Reporting System (MORS) and Confidential Human Factors Incident Reporting Programme (CHIRP) corroborate that the role of language in accidents and incidents is significant. A number of fatal and non-fatal accidents appear in the ICAO ADREP which cite ‘language barrier’ as a factor. These data are further supported in two recent reports by Eurocontrol (Van Es 2004; Van Es Wever & Verbeek 2006).


      Academic studies in such fields as natural language processing (Cushing 1994) and sociolinguistics (Linde 1988) have also examined and highlighted the role of language proficiency and language use in aviation incidents and accidents.

Aviation at RMIT University

RMIT University is a leading provider of undergraduate and postgraduate aviation programs, including Aerospace Engineering, Aerospace Maintenance, Aviation Management and Flight Training. The University operates the flight training program from its airbase at Point Cook, on the outskirts of Melbourne, Australia, where students can attain their commercial flight licence.


Can I study an Aviation English training course at RMIT English Worldwide?

No. Our Aviation English training courses are delivered either online (e.g. Beyond Level 4) or in a classroom setting through our partner organisations—airlines, government agencies and companies—worldwide. Please see Our partners to find a partner in your local area.

If you want to study the Beyond Level 4 course, our online Aviation English training course which is designed as an independent study tool, you can purchase it from this website.

Can I study a course at RMIT English Worldwide to become an Aviation English trainer?

No. RMIT English Worldwide only trains people who are employed by its partner organisations to become Aviation English trainers. If you are interested in becoming an Aviation English trainer, please see Our partners to find a partner in your local area. Then, you can enquire whether they have need of trainers.

How can I become a RELTA examiner or rater?

Our partner test centres that deliver RELTA select potential RELTA examiners and raters with appropriate qualifications and provide their details to RMIT English Worldwide. Those that are found to have the requisite qualifications (including the appropriate level of English language skills) are trained by RMIT English Worldwide and, if successful, accredited to be a RELTA examiner and/or rater for the test centre.

If you are interested in becoming a RELTA examiner or rater, please see Our partners to find a partner in your local area. Then, you can enquire whether they have need of examiners or raters.

What is Beyond Level 4?

See our section above on our Beyond Level 4 online Aviation English training course.

What are the software and hardware requirements of the Beyond Level 4 course?

These are the minimum system requirements:

  • Browser—Internet Explorer 6 or higher, Mozilla Firefox 3.5 or higher, Google Chrome 9 or higher, Apple Safari version 4 or higher
  • Plug ins—Adobe Flash Player 10.1
  • Internet connection—1000 Kbps or higher (Our diagnostic tool will show you the internet connection speed to your computer. If the internet bandwidth is too low the program will be slow.)
  • Peripherals—speakers/headphones, microphone.

These are the recommended system requirements:

  • Browser—Internet Explorer 9, Mozilla Firefox 3.6, Google Chrome 10, Apple Safari 5
  • Plug ins—Adobe Flash Player 10.1 or higher
  • Internet connection—1.5 Mbps or higher (Our diagnostic tool will show you the internet connection speed to your computer.)
  • Peripherals—high quality headphones with built in microphone.

How does Beyond Level 4 record and stream media?

Beyond Level 4 incorporates the recording of audio and streaming of media over the internet by using a Flash Media Server (FMS). FMS requires your computer to access Port 1935. Most personal computers will access the FMS without a problem. However, some company firewalls block Port 1935, which will prevent the course material from loading or functioning properly. Our diagnostic tool will help you determine whether Port 1935 is available on your machine.

What is the teaching methodology and what are the goals of Beyond Level 4?

Beyond Level 4 is designed as an independent study tool. High level listening and speaking skills are developed for communication in plain English in radiotelephony based and aviation related communication contexts.

How can individuals track their progress in Beyond Level 4?

You can track your progress using inbuilt features of the course, such as tick symbols that appear next to certain completed activities. Please refer to our sample courses and guided video tours. The video tour gives you a clear overview of the whole course (for either pilots or ATC), including a demonstration of its tracking features. The Aviation English trainer assigned to provide feedback to you will also use these functions to track your progress.

How long should it take me to complete Beyond Level 4?

We strongly advise that you complete the course over a 12–16 week period. The course comprises eight units. Aim to complete each unit over a 2 week period. Each unit contains listening comprehension, language structure, pronunciation, vocabulary and speaking activities.

In speaking activities I have to record my answers. How are the answers checked?

Speaking activities are submitted for review by your Beyond Level 4 assessor. The ICAO Language Proficiency Rating Scale is used as the basis for assessment. Individual feedback is forwarded to you following completion of units 1–4. When you have completed Unit 4, please email us at to request assessment.

What accents are included in the Beyond Level 4 Listening Test?

Accents include Australian, British and North American.

Does the speed of the recordings in the listening test vary from slow to fast, or vice versa?

Speed is not modulated throughout the course; however, as the course progresses through each unit, scenarios become more complex and listening activities become longer.

Is there any partner work?

No. Partner work is not required as the course has been designed for independent study.

Will I be able to practise interacting in non-routine scenarios?

Yes. Each of the eight units is based on a different non-routine flight scenario.

After completing the Beyond Level 4 course, how much more likely am I to achieve Level 5 on my next test?

The Beyond Level 4 course provides challenging, true to life scenarios for pilots and air traffic controllers to improve their English language proficiency. As with any language learning, the outcomes are more likely to be achieved when as many opportunities as possible are taken to practise over an extended period of time.

Do you have any recommendations for how to study the Beyond Level 4 course?

We recommend you complete the units in order. Each unit has three sessions and it is best to complete each session in one sitting. However, it is not advised to complete more than one session in a sitting. It would be more valuable to leave a few days between sessions and review a session before moving on.

What is RELTA?

See our section above on our RMIT English Language Test for Aviation.

What does RELTA assess?

RELTA assesses your ability to speak and understand English in aviation contexts, including routine and non-routine radiotelephony communication contexts, with a focus on plain English. 

RELTA does not assess your ability to read and write in English, or your knowledge of grammar or aviation.

What are the ICAO Language Proficiency Requirements?

See our section above on the ICAO Language Proficiency Requirements

Does RELTA meet the ICAO Language Proficiency Requirements?

Yes. RELTA has been trialled extensively with native and non-native English speaking pilots.

The trials found RELTA to be: 

  • an extremely reliable test
  • a valid and effective measure of language proficiency
  • an appropriate and valid test for pilots and air traffic controllers (measuring language areas associated with communication in both radiotelephony and face to face contexts)
  • an appropriate test instrument for assessing pilots and air traffic controllers in relation to the six core language skill areas identified by ICAO—pronunciation, structure, vocabulary, fluency, comprehension and interactions.

ICAO has recognised RELTA for Pilots Heavy (IFR) up to Level 5, as it conforms with ICAO’s stringent requirements and standards. It is one of only two English language proficiency tests conducted worldwide to be recognised by ICAO’s Aviation English Language Test Service (AELTS).

 (AELTS does not currently evaluate the validity of Level 6 assessment in English language proficiency tests).

Who is RELTA for?

RELTA is designed for pilots and air traffic controllers who need to demonstrate English language proficiency to meet the ICAO Language Proficiency Requirements.

Why do I need to sit RELTA?

If you are asked to sit RELTA, it means your organisation needs to demonstrate the language proficiency levels of all personnel to the civil aviation authority in your country, in accordance with the ICAO Language Proficiency Requirements.

Where can I sit RELTA?

RMIT English Worldwide works with approved test centres around the world who deliver RELTA. Please see Our partners to find a RELTA test centre in your local area.

You can also sit RELTA at our Melbourne Test Centre, where tests are scheduled every month:

RMIT Training
Level 10, 235-251 Bourke Street

Tests start at 10.00 am and should be completed by mid afternoon. 

Check upcoming test dates or book your place online today:

RELTA  will not be available from January 2017 as we use our English capability and experience to respond to training needs.

How do I apply for RELTA?

Please contact your local RELTA test centre to register to sit the test. (For your nearest test centre, please see Our partners.) If the organisation you work for is a RELTA provider, they can tell you where you can sit the test and what dates are available. You will need to provide:

  • your full name and date of birth
  • your pilot licence or ATC licence number
  • details of the company or organisation you work for.

What accents are included in the RELTA Listening Test?

Accents include Australian, British, North American, Italian, Brazilian, Indian, Filipino and Indonesian.

How long does RELTA take?

The Listening Test takes 35–50 minutes and the Speaking Test takes 25–30 minutes.

Do I have to sit both Listening and Speaking tests?

Yes. All candidates must do both tests.

Can I repeat one of the RELTA tests?

No. If you are repeating RELTA, you need to sit both tests again, even if you received a low score for only one of the tests. Results from previous tests are not carried forward.

If there is a technical interruption that is beyond your control, one of the tests may be repeated on its own. The test centre where you are sitting the test, in consultation with the Aviation Operations Team at RMIT English Worldwide, will determine whether this will happen.

Is every RELTA test the same?

No. There are many versions of each test type, and systems are in place to randomly assign and monitor the allocation of each version across all test centres.

No candidate will repeat the same test; however, the structure of RELTA remains the same for all versions.

Does RELTA require knowledge of aviation?

Yes. RELTA candidates must have adequate and appropriate aviation experience, including knowledge of flight operations and situations relevant to pilots and air traffic controllers.

RELTA assesses your ability to use radiotelephony language and incorporates radiotelephony words and phrases. It does not test your knowledge of aviation or ICAO standardised phraseology.

How can I prepare for RELTA?

You can do our free listening and speaking practice tests and check your answers in our support materials as many times as you wish. Please see Preparing for RELTA for these resources.

If I complete an RMIT English Worldwide language program before the test, will I get the score I need?

Completing an English language program delivered by RMIT English Worldwide, or another language provider, does not guarantee you will achieve ICAO Level 4, 5 or 6.

Our courses are designed to develop English language skills, and participants should notice an improvement in their confidence when speaking and understanding English. However, these courses will not determine whether a candidate is likely to achieve ICAO Level 4 or above.

What do I need to bring on the day of my RELTA test?

To be permitted to sit the test, on the day, you need to bring your:

  • photo identification (pilot licence, ATC licence or passport)
  • booking confirmation form (if the test centre has asked for it).

No books, bags, cameras, mobile phones or other electronic devices will be allowed in the test room. 

What happens on the day of the test?

You will have to register 30 minutes before the commencement of the test.

You will not be allowed to leave the test room once the test has commenced. Your voice will be recorded in the Speaking Test.

When and how can I get my results?

Results are issued up to 15 working days after the test date. Results and certificates are made available to you from your organisation, directly from the test centre or from your local civil aviation authority. You can also access your results online.

Can I get a replacement RELTA certificate?

RMIT English Worldwide can provide you with a copy of your certificate after we have verified your identity. You will need to email a scanned copy of your pilot licence or ATC licence, your request and a secure address for delivery to

If you wish RMIT English Worldwide to send the replacement certificate through registered or express post, you will need to cover that cost. (The test centre will give you more details.) However, if regular postage is acceptable there will be no charge.

Can I appeal my results or ask that my test be marked again?

Yes. If you feel the result does not accurately reflect your test performance, you can request an appeal. To do this, please contact your local RELTA test centre as soon as possible after receiving your results. They will issue you with a RELTA Candidate appeals form or you can download it yourself.

Completed appeals forms must be lodged with your test centre, who will sign them and forward them to the Aviation Operations Team at RMIT English Worldwide. All requests for appeal must be received by the Team within 21 days of your RELTA result being made available, unless exceptional circumstances apply.

Candidates are required to pay a fee of A$75 to lodge the appeal, which will be refunded if the appeal is upheld by the independent assessor.

How does RELTA assess results? Are RELTA results presented in accordance with ICAO levels?

RELTA assesses your performance using the six core language skill areas identified by ICAO—pronunciation, structure, vocabulary, fluency, comprehension and interactions.

Your lowest score on any criterion will determine your overall score. You need to achieve a minimum of Level 4 in all six criteria to achieve ICAO compliance. 

Is RELTA endorsed in every country?

ICAO determines that every state has the sovereign right to nominate which test centres and which tests they endorse. You need to ask the civil aviation authority (CAA) of whichever state you wish your test results to be endorsed by for this information, and then follow the test centre’s requirements.

You can assume that the CAA of any country where RELTA is delivered has endorsed the test for that country. However, you cannot assume that another country will automatically endorse your RELTA test results. 

For how long is an English language proficiency test score valid?

Your local civil aviation authority determines how long your test score remains valid.

ICAO recommends that:

  • Level 4 is valid for licence endorsement for 3 years from the test date
  • Level 5 is valid for licence endorsement for 6 years from the test date
  • Level 6 is valid for licence endorsement for an indefinite period from the test date.

Who can I contact about my RELTA agreement?

RMIT English Worldwide will continue to support your testing needs during the remainder of 2016. Please contact to discuss your training requirements. See our Train with us page