English proficiency of Boliviana pilots may lead to nationwide aviation chaos

English proficiency of Boliviana pilots may lead to nationwide aviation chaos

Friday, November 16th 2018 – 13:58 UTC

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BoA's pilots do not accept to have their English proficiency tested at dates other than those set by existing regulations. BoA’s pilots do not accept to have their English proficiency tested at dates other than those set by existing regulations.

Boliviana de Aviación (BoA) pilots are threatening to take measures if they are compelled to fulfill a resolution from the Directorate of Civilian Aeronautics (DGAC) which requires them to update their English language certification, after an incident in January at Miami’s International Airport (MIA).

On that occasion, a Boliviana pilot exited the landing runway to the left instead of to the right as instructed in English by the control tower.

The DGAC issued an order whereby all of Bolivia’s civilian pilots (BoA’s and others) need to be tested again for their English language skills and may have their licenses revoked.

BoA’ s 130 pilots feel the measure is illegal as it dents their image within the aeonautical international community.

Supporting the BoA pilots are their colleagues from other airlines and unions from other workers in the aviation industry. The situation may have unforeseeable consequences, observers have said.

”The problem of the BoA pilots arises from Order (69/2018) issued by [DGAC Director Celier] Aparicio in April, which requires the requalification of the level of linguistic competence in English to pilots, subject to suspension of their licenses,“ explained lawyer Álvaro Munguía.

He warned that this decision will bring serious consequences, even the possibility of losing certifications for the airlines and damage the image of the civilian pilots of Bolivia.

The RAB61 standard regulates linguistic assessment intervals at three levels. ”But Aparicio does not know the RAB61 that mandates all pilots to requalify their level of linguistic competence, which indicates that the evaluation intervals are every three years for level 4, every six for level 5 and level 6,“ he added.

And ”[the pilots] will not return to be evaluated because it is an expert level,“ he warned.

The Association of Civil Pilots of Santa Cruz has regretted the ”misguided administrative decisions“ of Aparicio, for ordering procedures that put operational safety at risk, exposing the lives of passengers and crew.

Bolivia’s Minister of Public Works Milton Claros announced that the Transparency Unit is investigating flight security.

Aviation unions and pilot groupings have asked President Evo Morales ”to demilitarize the DGAC“ and replace its top officials with people ”of vast experience in civilian aeronautics.“ They also pressed for the creation of a civilian aviation vice ministry.

Airlines complain daily about ”bureaucracy, untimely changes of norms, and requirements that seem to be made at the whim of someone.“

”There are delays in the certification of new airlines for almost a year. The registration of new aircraft takes up to four months … If there is no solution in a few weeks, we will go out to claim publicly,” an airline source who requested anonymity, fearing reprisals from the DGAC, was quoted as saying.