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Helicopter Pilot Achieves ICAO Level 5 in French

Helicopter chinook dropping water onto wildfires, French language rating for pilot, FCL .055 ICAO level 5

Antonio really made my day! This helicopter pilot has been dropping water to tackle – and put out – wildfires all over Europe for many years. As he needed the FCL .055 rating in French, he started working on aviation French in early May. After only 19 training hours he managed to pass his FCL .055 with flying colours – ICAO level 5. He’s going to extinguish wildfires in the south of France. Congratulations Antonio as it is well deserved! Here below a video with feedback about the kind of test you can expect as a helicopter pilot when you take it at the DGAC.

Helicopter pilot passed FCL .055 in French – Feedback
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Relative ALTITUDES in French – Amendment to the DGAC Manual of Phraseology – « AU-DESSUS », and not « dessous »

Altitudes and flight levels at stake – « AU-DESSUS » and « PLUS BAS » to be used in French R/T communications

Altitudes relatives selon la nouvelle phraséologie de la DGAC

Flight safety – Progress made and further expected

Sécurité des vols – Progrès accomplis et d’autres attendus

Altitudes relatives : au-dessus, plus bas, phraséologie communication radio entre pilote et contrôleur aérien selon la DGAC, direction générale de l'aviation civile en France
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ICAO French level – I took the FCL .055 in Paris Orly

Why take an ICAO French exam when you’re French?

I know that taking an ICAO French exam may sound weird – not to say preposterous – as I’m neither a pilot, nor an air traffic controller, and I’m a native French speaker. I just sat for this exam for I needed to learn further about the aviation French test format. I did that to help native English speakers fly in French airspace. I passed the exam, but it wasn’t that easy.

ICAO French exam centre

The DGAC ICAO French exam centre is to the southwest of Paris. You just need to go to Orly airport, and it’s next door. It’s not exactly in Paris-Orly. The test facilities are in Paray-Vieille-Poste, i.e. right here:

Three papers

As I’d taken the English FCL .O55 in the very DGAC exam centre ten years before, I expected about the same methodology. Yet I was a bit wrong. The test is made up of three papers:

  • Listening
  • Simulated flight
  • Accident or incident report

Listening test

Each of us was given a seat, a computer and a headset in the DGAC lab. A jury member explained very well what we had to do. He spoke in French only. We were told that it wouldn’t be a language proficiency test but a professional test. We typed our names before starting, then we stowed the keyboard behind the screen so that we could have room for writing down our answers. We were then given a bundle of sheets which looked like the English listening test I’d taken in 2013. As expected, here are the specifications:

Tour de contrôle, control tower, Paris Orly airport, aéroport, aviation French
  • 19 questions
  • Gap-filling test
  • Pen needed for filling the gaps
  • The first question is an ATIS in French with several blanks.
  • Each soundtrack is played twice
  • You can’t know the context of the clearance or soundtrack, nor can you have a map or a chart relating to the situation
  • Listening score out of twenty
  • The ATIS is counted as two points.

I’d advise jotting down as soon as possible. Don’t waste time during the first listening. You can correct everything during the second listening and even after if you have time.

Simulated flight

The DGAC simulated flight in French is almost the same as the one in English, i.e. you shall read back everything. As the version #10 of the DGAC manual of phraseology has recently been published, you can say what you like in terms of numbers. There’s no problem with that provided that the virtual ATC and the virtual pilot understand each other. The main difficulty remains in reading back everything. You’ve got to be well organised and well trained before taking the exam. Here is what you are given during this paper:

  • The call signs used for that simulated flight
  • Where you come from
  • Where you are flying to
  • Your position
  • Your type of aircraft
  • 4 sequences which can be prepared in advance on a draft sheet

It’s completely virtual as you shall be speaking in French when entering English-speaking airspace.

Accident / incident report

Again, the examiner explained in French this paper. We were given an accident / incident summary which came from a British article or investigation report. We had enough elements and topics to deal with. We summarised in speaking French about our unusual situation after reading. We then had one or two questions about the report summary.

ICAO French levels and debrief

We all waited for the results in the waiting room. We were given our ICAO levels, and a short debrief after around a quarter of an hour. We started at 10am, and we left at 12.15pm. We weren’t given our individual language skill levels, nor did I receive them when I received the pass attestation. As we were explained during the introduction, it isn’t a language skill evaluation. At least it can’t be a language proficiency exam as recommended in ICAO DOC 9835. The importance of listening without context and reading back everything is capital. There’s little interaction but during the simulated flight. You can get prepared thanks to this training:

If you want to take it – many thanks to Lingaero CEO, James Emery for the tip – you just have to contact or call +33158094404 / +33149755641 .

Si vous voulez le passer – merci au dirigeant de Lingaero, James Emery, pour l’info – il vous suffit de contacter ou d’appeler le +33158094404 ou +33149755641

FCL ANGLAIS, préparation FCL .055, anglais et français aéronautique ICAO French training
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FRANÇAIS AÉRONAUTIQUE – nouvelle formation en ligne – AVIATION FRENCH – new training service online

Mis à jour le 27/08/2023 – Formation en FRANÇAIS AÉRONAUTIQUE – plus d’informations ici. Cette vidéo commence en anglais, puis en français à 02′:16 ».


Vous voulez devenir plus efficace en français mais vous ne savez pas comment ? Allons, si un locuteur natif vous écoute régulièrement et corrige ce qui vous empêche d’être un locuteur courant, ça marchera.


Toni est français, étant né en France. Il vit à Tours, en plein cœur du Val-de-Loire. La plupart des gens parlent le français sans aucun accent dans cette région. Toni a été mécanicien avion, pilote de planeurs, instructeur ATPL (050 Météorologie & 081 Principes de vol) et traducteur. Il a enseigné l’anglais de l’aviation pendant plus de vingt ans et maintenant le français de l’aviation. Il enseigne le français comme langue étrangère (FLE) depuis août 2021. Ses méthodes sont celles des recommandations de l’OACI : la sécurité des vols par la communication. C’est pourquoi il cible d’abord les compétences langagières les plus faibles. Puis il les regroupe pour les traiter dans leur ensemble. En effet, la conversation est à la fois le moyen et le but.


Le français est difficile avec des sons spéciaux, des voyelles et des consonnes, sans parler de toutes les liaisons et exceptions. La grammaire et la syntaxe sont également difficiles avec des locutions spéciales, la conjugaison et les temps qui peuvent être délicats. La bonne nouvelle est que le français et l’anglais ont beaucoup en commun. Vous pouvez demander un premier créneau de vingt minutes. C’est gratuit, et cela vous permet de faire une première évaluation de vos besoins et de vos objectifs. Vous pouvez poser vos questions à la page CONTACT, ou au +33667157562 ou par email: FCL ANGLAIS donne des cours d’anglais aéronautique principalement, et maintenant de FRANÇAIS DE L’AVIATION. Formation pour préparer les examens OACI FCL .055 en anglais et en français, services de briefing et de débriefing en anglais et traductions sur l’anglais de l’aviation. Français langue étrangère, voix off en français et sous-titrage.

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Aviation French for pilots, ATCOs, and even more

Some online face-to-face time slots will be proposed in aviation French by 2023. As the demand is growing, I do believe it’s time pilots had training available online. The first time slots will focus on vocabulary. Then some radiotelephony aviation French will be taught. The phraseology used will abide by the DGAC manual of radiotelephony, the Arrêté du 27 juin 2000 modifié, and the ICAO DOC 9432 as well as ICAO DOC 4444, Chapter 12. Further information here below:

Des plages horaires de face-à-face en ligne seront proposées en français aéronautique d’ici 2023. Comme la demande est croissante, je pense qu’il est temps que les pilotes aient une formation disponible en ligne. Les premiers créneaux horaires porteront sur le vocabulaire. Par la suite, un peu de français aéronautique de la radiotéléphonie sera enseigné. La phraséologie utilisée sera conforme au manuel de radiotéléphonie de la DGAC, à l’Arrêté du 27 juin 2000 modifié, et au DOC 9432 de l’OACI ainsi qu’au chapitre 12 du DOC 4444 de l’OACI. Plus d’informations ci-dessous :

FCL ANGLAIS, aviation French for pilots and air traffic controllers, ground engineers, ramp agents, cabin crew
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Native French speaker tutor teacher trainer speaking English proficient proficiency language online course conversation Toni Giacoia skills France Tours Touraine headway progress lessons

Native French speaker conversation might become the next service on FCL ANGLAIS. It is available on PREPLY. Toni – an experienced aviation English teacher from Tours, France, is at your service. Do you know that Tours is deemed to be the best place in the world to learn French? Look up in any browser and read about that. Speaking with a native French tutor may not be so academic, but the method is quite effective to make headway in French: you can learn and make headway by speaking. The tutor tackles your weakest language skills, then lets you speak, and so on. You can even have fun at times! Toni is ready to help you pronounce better in French. He can correct your grammar and syntax while speaking.

Speaking activity available online

Face-to-face conversation online is the best way to make progress as far as speaking is concerned. Chatting is quite important because Toni can give you some exercises, and you can succeed with flying colours, but when it comes to speaking, you need to activate all your language skills, and it may get more difficult to make a no-mistake. Book now on PREPLY. For further information on NATIVE FRENCH SPEAKER CONVERSATION, please click on the page CONTACT. Here is the trailer on the gist of this service. The first part is spoken in French while the second is in English.

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