Welcome to Abis!
It’s an interesting time at ICAO. As we head towards the 40th ICAO Assembly, starting in September 2019, we need to consider how far we have come since the 39th ICAO Assembly in 2016, what we have achieved and what we need to do next. Undoubtedly, we have made progress on the key output of the last Assembly – CORSIA, the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation, will be the first sectoral industry scheme for the reduction of CO2 emissions agreed and delivered at global level. ICAO has worked hard to agree all elements necessary to operationalise the scheme. This includes rules on monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) of emissions and information on the operation of registries. Some work remains on how we can account for the use of sustainable alternative fuels within the scheme and we hope for progress soon. The voluntary phase of CORSIA begins in 2021, and 79 states have already signed up to participate. We hope this will increase over the next months as we move towards the 40th ICAO Assembly.
On safety and air navigation, we have worked to improve on aviation’s already impressive safety record with a focus on efficiency and smart regulation which will be necessary to accommodate the significant growth in air travel expected globally over the next decades. The Global Aviation Safety Plan and the Global Air Navigation Plan provide the vision and tools to do that and implementation is underway. A key theme for the 40th ICAO Assembly will be innovation – innovation in aircraft, aviation and related technologies as well as innovation in regulation. We need to figure out how to accommodate new entrants and adapt to new technologies while maintaining our safety record. We need to move with our industry as it grows and not constrain it.
On security, we have agreed the Global Aviation Security Plan, which sets aspirational targets for better implementation of ICAO security rules, in three phases to 2030.We have been consolidating those fundamental security rules and reviewing the Universal Security Audit Program to ensure it can give a clear picture of strengths and weaknesses in security systems. We hope to increase activity in this area and strengthen our capacity to assist states in improving security measures. Facilitation is the flip side of security – what we can do to make air travel easy and stress free for the passenger even when checks must take place. Some facilitation initiatives make travel easier and improve security such as ICAO’s Traveller Identification Programme, and these will continue to be given priority at the next Assembly and beyond.
ICAO was originally established to give all states the same opportunity to develop their air transport sector and to benefit from aviation as a driver of economic growth. Liberalisation remains a priority and we hope for concrete steps forward by the next Assembly, including on an international Convention on Foreign Investment in Air Carriers, to relax the sometimes strict ownership and control rules that can prevent investment in some cases.
Aviation is nothing without a skilled workforce. Since we know the industry will grow and we already have a shortage of aviation professionals, we need to act to ensure that enough qualified and competent workers are available to operate, manage and maintain the future international air transport system. The next Assembly will focus also on this important issue and seek to bring together governments, regulators, industry, universities and training institutions to take the necessary measures to achieve this.
ICAO is one of the very best examples of an international rules based system that enables the growth and development of states and peoples. The Abis group is proud to contribute to this effort. We do so at all levels – from the governing body ICAO Council, to the technical specialists in the Air Navigation Commission, from global conferences addressing ICAO key strategic objectives and high level policies to panels, working groups and task forces working to ensure that ICAO’s rules work and are implemented on the ground – Abis is involved in all of this and makes an impressive contribution. That contribution is strong because it is based on real collaboration between eight states who have a shared vision for making ICAO a success. Our new visual identity and this website aim to show you how the world looks from the Abis window – there is an exciting journey ahead and adventures to be had. We hope that you will join us!
Annemarie Smith Floch
ICAO Council member for Ireland