Ministry and Pilots to tackle use of English at major airports

This measure will affect seven airports in Spain

The Ministry of Public Works will hold a meeting with SEPLA [Spanish Union of Airline Pilots] in the coming days to tackle the use of English in communications between pilots and controllers at airports with the greatest international traffic, on grounds of air traffic safety.

The EU Commission Implementing Regulation 2016/1185, of 20 July 2016 (“SERA C Regulation) will come into force on 12 October, which establishes, inter alia, the obligatory use of English in communications between aircraft and air traffic controllers at airports with more than 50,000 instrumental international air operations on grounds of air traffic safety.

This measure will affect seven airports in Spain: Adolfo Suarez Madrid-Barajas, Alicante-Elche, Barcelona-El Prat, Gran Canaria, Malaga-Costa del Sol, Palma de Mallorca and Tenerife Sur-Reina Sofía.

Pursuant to the regulation, English must be used at these airports in communications between the control tower and aircraft that are in close proximity to the airport (within eight kilometres), those that have just landed and those that are preparing to take off.

The Ministry of Public Works is pushing through a draft Royal Decree, jointly drafted between AESA [State Air Security Agency] and the General Directorate of Civil Aviation, to implement the regulation in Spain. This process will take into consideration all the reports received during the hearings with the relevant bodies, including SEPLA, which defends the use of a single language in these communications when all pilots connected to the radio speak the same language, without this necessarily being English.

In order to address this issue, the Ministry of Public Works has called SEPLA to hold a meeting, taking into account that the priority of this new regulation is to step up safety levels.


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