China demands its pilots speak better English
BEIJING (Reuters) - Less than a tenth of China's pilots meet international aviation English standards, the airline regulator said Tuesday, encouraging them to rise to the challenge of bolstering their linguistic skills.
But some pilots have the wrong attitude and are prevaricating, the civil aviation authority said in a statement on its Web site (www.caac.gov.cn).
"The requirement to raise pilot's English abilities comes from a formal decision by the International Civil Aviation Organization," it quoted deputy aviation minister Li Jian as saying.
"I hope those comrades who have the wrong thinking drop their illusions, don't wait around and don't rely on others, grasp the present good conditions for studying English and dare to fulfill their responsibilities," Li said.
"This will be long, hard, comprehensive work," he said.
At present, only 651 Chinese pilots had passed the English exams, the statement said. That leaves some 8,000 who still need to pass.
China is experiencing a boom in airline travel on the back of its surging economy, but officials have freely admitted service, training and hardware standards have struggled to keep up.
Many Chinese pilots are ex-military and speak little or even no English, though some airlines do now train their new pilots overseas to ensure they have the required language skills, especially ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.