There are still language-related safety issues in international aeronautical radiotelephony communications. This article revisits the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) language policy, a set of language proficiency requirements mainly reflected in the ICAO Rating Scale (Pronunciation, Structure, Vocabulary, Fluency, Comprehension, and Interaction). Although the ICAO Rating Scale has been used globally to assess professional aviation speakers’ communicative language proficiency for two decades now, it remains unclear what role the six ICAO criteria have played in high-stakes aviation English tests. We thus conducted an independent study based on secondary data analysis. We applied the Winsteps Rasch Rating Scale Model to 358 Chinese pilots’ test scores on an aviation English test in China. The results suggest that the six criteria carried considerably different relative values in contribution to test outcomes and that Interaction was different from the other five criteria. This exploratory study provides an example of how the ICAO assessment criteria were used in a locally developed aviation English test; its findings can have implications for supporting and implementing a language policy for global harmonization.

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