Frequently asked questions

1. Who is the Latitude Testing Toolkit for?

2. Why should we use the Latitude Testing Toolkit?

3. What staff will our organisation need to create a testing service?

4. What does the initial training consist of?

5. How does the Latitude Testing Toolkit licence work?

6. Does Latitude provide testing directly for individual pilots?

7. Is Latitude approved by any national regulatory authorities?

8. Is the ETA test or the Latitude Testing Toolkit recognised by ICAO?

9. Why are the ETA and the Latitude Testing Toolkit not recognised by ICAO?

10. What tests are currently recognised by ICAO?

11. Can Toolkit licence holders apply for ICAO recognition?

12. Is there evidence for the validity and reliability of the test?

13. Who maintains the Latitude Testing Toolkit?

14. Does Latitude monitor use of the Toolkit by licence holders?

15. Does Latitude guarantee the quality of Latitude Testing Toolkit results?

16. Can we make changes to the test?

17. Can we optimise the test for other aviation personnel, for example, air traffic controllers?

18. Do we have to submit changes to the test or testing procedures to Latitude for approval?

19. Does Latitude offer the Latitude Testing Toolkit to consortia or industry associations?

20. Can we use the Toolkit to test personnel from other organisations?

21. Can we sell the Toolkit to 3rd parties?

22. Does the test measure technical or operational knowledge?

23. Does the test assess RT phraseology?

24. Who assesses language proficiency?

25. Does Latitude provide support products and services?

 

1. Who is the Latitude Testing Toolkit for?
The Latitude Testing Toolkit is for any organisation - regulator, airline, aviation or language training organisation - wishing to establish in-house ICAO level testing at low cost. Due to the royalty free licence, the Toolkit is particularly suited to organisations with larger and/or steady volumes of test takers, such as aviation training organisations, regulators and airlines. For such users, the Toolkit represents an extremely cost-effective yet high-quality testing solution.

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2. Why should we use the Latitude Testing Toolkit?

There are many reasons reasons why you should use the Latitude Testing Toolkit. Here are three:

  1. The Toolkit gives you access to testing system with a proven track record for quality
  2. The Toolkit is far more cost-effective than creating your own test system or purchasing testing services from a 3rd party
  3. The initial start-up package and ongoing support services means that you can develop your expertise with aviation English testing and build an independent and sustainable testing capability in the long term.

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3. What staff will our organisation need to create a testing service?

To create an aviation English testing service using the Toolkit, you will need the following personnel:

  • A central administrator (who is responsible for the overall test system)
  • A test centre manager (who is responsible for the management of testing at a test centre)
  • Examiners:
    • At least one Subject Matter Expert examiner with minimum of 5 years’ operational experience as an air traffic controller or pilot
    • At least one English language expert examiner with a minimum of 2 years’ experience in teaching aviation English

Note: The roles of central administrator, test centre manager and examiner may be combined.

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4. What does the initial training consist of?

The Toolkit startup package includes a five-day initial training course for central administrators, test centre managers and examiners which covers the following areas:

  • An overview of the testing system
  • An overview of the test and test specifications
  • Responsibilities of central administration, test centre managers and examiners
  • Running a test session and managing test candidates
  • Delivering the test
  • Rating candidate performance
  • Quality assurance, record keeping, certification and candidate appeals

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5. How does the Latitude Testing Toolkit licence work?

The Toolkit is available under a royalty-free licence for unlimited use. This means that once the licence fee is paid and initial training is complete, licence holders may use the test as many times as they wish during the licence period with no additional or hidden fees. The standard licence period is 10 years and is renewable on expiry. If you prefer, you can start with a 20, 30 or 40 year licence.

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6. Does Latitude provide testing directly for individual pilots?

No. Latitude provides the Toolkit but does not itself operate test centres or provide direct testing services for personnel licensing.

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7. Is Latitude approved by any national regulatory authorities?

No. The ETA was the first language test to be approved by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (approval held between 2009 and 2013) and the ETA held approvals in other ICAO member states. However, today, Latitude does not operate test centres or provide direct testing services for personnel licensing. Therefore, Latitude does not hold any current regulatory approvals.

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8. Is the ETA test or the Latitude Testing Toolkit recognised by ICAO?

No. The ETA held a conditional endorsement (now called ‘recognition’) under ICAO’s Aviation English Language Test Service between 2012 and 2013 and was the first test in the world to receive recognition by ICAO. However, today, the ETA is not recognised by ICAO.

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9. Why are the ETA and the Latitude Testing Toolkit not recognised by ICAO?

In order to make the Toolkit accessible to licence holders at low cost, we operate a licensing model in which the licence holder’s administration of testing services is completely independent of Latitude. In addition, we encourage licence holders to adapt and modify the Toolkit to their own testing context and investigate the validity and reliability of the services they provide. In other words, we encourage licence holders to:

  • Optimise their test to their candidates’ language use context and therefore improve test validity
  • Develop a deeper understanding of the language testing services they provide and therefore build local expertise in the long term.

Latitude provides support services to help licence holders to achieve these aims. However, Latitude neither monitors, controls nor audits licence holder activity, and licence holders remain independent of Latitude at all times. The independence and capacity building that we aim to promote means that it is not possible for Latitude - as the owner of the Toolkit - to achieve ICAO recognition. This does not mean that the test itself - its content, systems and procedures - do not conform to the guidance contained in ICAO document 9835. Rather, it means that the system of licensing for the Toolkit does not allow Latitude to control test use or guarantee the conditions for test administration to the extent required for successful ICAO recognition.

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10. What tests are currently recognised by ICAO?

Click here to check.

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11. Can Latitude Testing Toolkit licence holders apply for ICAO recognition?

Yes. Licence holders may apply for ICAO recognition specific to their organisation's testing context based either on the test as supplied or their own derivative of the test.

In broad terms, ICAO recognition is contingent on:

  • A robust system of test development, maintenance and administration; and
  • Provision of satisfactory evidence for test quality (validity and reliability) based on data gathered from test use.

You can read ICAO's guide to submitting validity evidence here.

The Toolkit provides the building blocks for a high-quality testing system and includes documented evidence for test quality. However, in order to prepare a successful application for ICAO recognition, licence holders will need to prepare evidence that the testing services they provide are valid and reliable based on data from their own test use. Preparing this evidence takes time and requires field-specific expertise.

As licence holders operate language testing services independently of Latitude, investigating and providing evidence for test validity and reliability and preparing for ICAO recognition is the responsibility of the licence holder. However, to support licence holders, Latitude provides workshops on investigating test quality and can provide support to licence holders preparing for ICAO recognition.

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12. Is there evidence for the validity and reliability of the test?

Yes. The Toolkit includes a document entitled A Report on Test Development and Initial Investigations into Test Quality in which the history of ETA test development and trialling is described and evidence of test validity and reliability provided.

Aviation language testing is extremely high stakes. Although Toolkit licence holders operate independently of Latitude and under their own regulatory approval(s), we strongly recommend that licence holders adhere to standard practices in language testing and ICAO document 9835. This means:

  • Trialling all test content on a representative sample of the population before test use;
  • Analysing test data both in trials and in during field testing; and
  • Monitoring and reporting on the quality (validity and reliability) of the language testing services provided.

This process requires field-specific expertise. To support licence holders, Latitude provides workshops on investigating test quality.

As licence holders operate language testing services independently of Latitude, investigating and providing evidence for test validity and reliability is the responsibility of the licence holder.

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13. Who maintains the Latitude Testing Toolkit?

Latitude's in-house and freelance English language and subject matter experts maintain the Toolkit including test specifications, content and materials. Test content and materials are created according to the Toolkit test specifications for parts 1, 2 and 3 of the test. We recommend that licence holders renew their live test material according to the volume of candidates and conditions for testing. New test materials are provided to licence holders for a fee.

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14. Does Latitude monitor use of the Toolkit by licence holders?

No. Latitude does neither monitors, audits nor controls any aspect of a licence holder's activities. Although we do not monitor test use, we strongly recommend that licence holders administer testing using personnel trained by Latitude and in accordance with the Toolkit Standard Operating Procedures. We request that licence holders return test data and records to Latitude for research purposes so we may continue to improve the Toolkit and the services we provide to licence holders. Data is treated in the strictest of confidence. Where we have permission to report data, we report anonymously.

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15. Does Latitude guarantee the quality of Latitude Testing Toolkit results?

No. Under the Toolkit licence, Latitude provides the Toolkit and training for a licence holder, and strongly recommends that the test is administered by trained personnel in accordance with the documented procedures. However, the quality of test development, maintenance and administration remains the sole responsibility of the licence holder and this includes scores reported in tests administered by licence holders.

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16. Can we make changes to the test?

Yes. Licence holders may customise test specifications, content and SOPs in order to meet national regulatory requirements and licence holder operating requirements. At any time during the ten-year licence period, licence holders may also rename the test and add their branding and logo, and may optimise the test for other aviation personnel should they wish. Any substantial adaptations or modifications made by the licence holder will be owned by the licence holder. Latitude provides test development workshops for licence holders wishing to make changes to the Toolkit.

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17. Can we optimise the test for other aviation personnel, for example, air traffic controllers?

Yes. Licence holders may optimise the test for other aviation personnel should they wish. Any substantial adaptations or modifications made by the licence holder will be owned by the licence holder. Latitude provides test development workshops to support licence holders wishing to optimise the test for other aviation personnel.

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18. Do we have to submit changes to the test or testing procedures to Latitude for approval?

No. Latitude provides the Toolkit and training for licence holders, and strongly recommends that the test is administered by personnel trained by Latitude and in accordance with the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). However, licence holders are free to make any changes, amendments, adaptations or modifications to the Toolkit that they wish and do not need to submit such changes to Latitude for approval. To support licence holders, Latitude provides workshops on test development during which Latitude can advise licence holders on any changes to the test or SOPs.

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19. Does Latitude offer the Toolkit to consortia or industry associations?

Yes. We are happy to provide a single licence to a consortium or to an industry association.

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20. Can we use the Toolkit to test personnel from other organisations?

Yes. Once you have set up your own testing centre or centres, you can test anyone you want to (subject to national regulatory requirements).

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21. Can we sell the Toolkit to 3rd parties?

No. The Toolkit as supplied by Latitude remains the intellectual property of Latitude. The licence gives you permission for unlimited royalty-free use of the test and to change, adapt or modify the test, but does not give you ownership of the Toolkit or the right to sell the Toolkit to 3rd parties.

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22. Does the test measure technical or operational knowledge?

No. The ETA is a test of communicative language ability in the context of flight operations and it does not test technical or operational knowledge. The test is for pilots and we assume that all test takers have some experience flying aircraft and using the radio, whether 200 hours on training flights or 10,000 hours on heavy jets. Like all tests of language for specific purposes, the test naturally engages background knowledge in aviation, but it will not directly assess this knowledge - only the test taker's ability to communicate in English based on this knowledge.

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23. Does the test assess RT phraseology?

No. In part 1 of the test, test takers have to use standard phraseology to communicate with the examiner. This is necessary to simulate air-ground communications. However, the test is designed to measure plain English in situations where phraseology is not enough, and this is the focus of the assessment. We assume that test takers are proficient in English medium standard ICAO phraseology.

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24. Who assesses language proficiency?

We recommend that during a test, two examiners assess language proficiency. One examiner is a Subject Matter Expert - a current or retired pilot or air traffic controller. The other examiner is an English Language Expert - a trained and qualified aviation English instructor. The ETA uses two examiners to make sure that test results are reliable. Also, using both aviation and English language specialists helps to ensure that assessments are linguistically and technically accurate.

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25. Does Latitude provide support products and services?

Yes. Latitude provides the following support products and services:

  • New test materials
  • Initial training for new test personnel
  • Refresher training for existing test personnel
  • Workshops on investigating validity and reliability
  • Workshops on test development

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