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Flying into French Language Only (FR-only) airfields

Could only provide any clarification on whether you need a French language proficency cert to fly into an airfield that’s marked as French languange only in the AIP

I don’t have such a cert, however I’ve flown into a number of French only airfields in the past. Most are small airfields that either have no ATC/AFIS or have AFIS but are French only when not AFIS isn’t active. Occasionally you get larger airfields that have ATC, but which are air to air French only when ATC is off duty.

When I’ve visited these airfields in the past, I’m almost invariably the only aircraft on Frequency, or at most one other one. My French isn’t great, but I’ve been able to speak enough to sort out the runway in use, circuit direction and who’s where, and do my position reports when there is someone else there.

About two years ago, someone on another fourm pointed me towards a document that said that you needed a French languange cert if you were to fly in “airspace that requried use of the French language”. This was enough to make me question whether what I was doing was legal or not, so I’ve not gone to one again. (Actually to be honest, I haven’t had reason to go to one again, since then, rather than shying away.)

Of course most of these airports aren’t in a particular airspace, and are rather in the open FIR. But if I were to follow that line or argument, then it suggests that some airspace must be French only (otherwise that regulation would have been pointless). I don’t know of any ‘airspace’ that is French only which leads back to the idea that it relates to the airspace surrounding airfields marked as French only.

So can anyone clarify on whether a French Languange cert is required in order to fly to a French only airfield or not? I’d like to be able to get to the bottom of this one and know if I’m allowed to visit or not.

Thanks!
Colm

EIKH Kilrush

The French wiil probably tell you that it is, however; you cannot get French LP put on any licence not issued by the French!
The whole purpose of ELP as proposed by ICAO is to ensure that there are no communication failures between pilots and Air Traffic Controllers in the commercial air transport environment where English is the International language of the Air. It was never intended for VFR flight!
So what does the law say?

FCL.055 Language proficiency
(a) General. Aeroplane, helicopter, powered-lift and airship pilots required to use the radio telephone shall not exercise the privileges of their licences and ratings unless they have a language proficiency endorsement on their licence in either English or the language used for radio communications involved in the flight. The endorsement shall indicate the language, the proficiency level and the validity date.

“English or” not “English and”

Learn the relevant French phrases and use them when necessary. If you are Level 4 French it will not pose you a problem; if you aren’t, don’t rattle the cage!

“English or” not “English and"

That’s an extremely interesting point you are making here.

I’m a German national, flying usually out of and in Germany, but I’m holding a UK-issued PPL and also a UK-issued radiotelephony license with English language proficiency level 6.

I always wondered whether I’m allowed to use German on the radio with that setup. My approach to it has been: Use German at smaller fields where German is the only or in any case the predominant language and use English within CAS or when communicating with FIS.

Following the above, I can use any language for radio communication as long as I have the proficiency endorsement for English?

Last Edited by Patrick at 12 Mar 15:07
Hungriger Wolf (EDHF), Germany

I always wondered whether I’m allowed to use German on the radio with that setup.

It depends on how you read FCL.055 quoted above. But the most common interpretation is that you either need English or the language involved in the flight. And as the language involved in a flight to a german (or french) only airfield can only be german (or french), it must be on your license. When converting to the EASA license last year, we were advised to get german level 6 entered as well as english. Which for a german national can be done by submitting a self-declaration to LBA. In your case, it will be a little more difficult.

EDDS - Stuttgart

Following the above, I can use any language for radio communication as long as I have the proficiency endorsement for English?

You’re exactly making the point. You can’t, and it would be foolish to interpret the words in that way.

We discussed this at length at P&F some time ago.

Others may disagree, but in my opinion, one has to read the above reg in its context. And as such the intention was “…you need an English endorsement if you happen to talk English or the local language endorsement if you happen to use the local language”.

In fact, someone (I think Achim) went as far as to contact the French authorities about this and they also follow the above interpretation (i.e. French LP required for French-only airfields). The bad thing is that even if one speaks good French as a foreigner, it is difficult to obtain the french LP, because the French do not have that problem and there are no such testing facilities AFAIK.

It would be really wonderful if AOPA et al managed to do something about the situation. But I am not too optimistic on that one.

Obviously, should someone ever charge me with something at a French-only airfield, I will of course fiercely take the “other” position.

Last Edited by boscomantico at 12 Mar 16:59
Mainz (EDFZ), Germany

But the most common interpretation is that you either need English or the language involved in the flight

Why mention English then?

If the unfavorable interpretation described by what next and boscomantico is correct, a reference to the language involved in the flight would be sufficient, wouldn’t it?

Hungriger Wolf (EDHF), Germany

I think the right interpretation is that you need either English in general or the language required for the flight to use the radio. It does not mean that having English allows you to fly into a French field. English is mentioned as that is the ICAO language for aviation.

Last Edited by JasonC at 12 Mar 16:14
EGTK Oxford

Why mention English then?

Because its an ICAO recomendation for licence endorsement for International flight when radio is used!

France has notified a difference to ICAO

Because it’s an ICAO recommendation for licence endorsement for International flight when radio is used!

Any source, perhaps? I never learned more than that ICAO recognises English, Russian and French. No mention even of US’an …

France has notified a difference to ICAO

That’s just like them,. and no blame. No doubt Russia, China, and perhaps even Germany have done something similar?

However, I think the argument somewhat moot, for us, pilots of small craft. For decades, it all worked very well on sheer pragmatism and due professionalism, until the recent over-regulation began. The best point for us has been well formulated as

don’t rattle the cage

Last Edited by at 12 Mar 19:32
EBZH Kiewit, Belgium

Jan, that isn’t the point. The question is why English is named and for ICAO it is the language of aviation.

They key is you clearly need the local language for an airport labeled as local-language only.

EGTK Oxford
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