The 38th Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) concluded last Friday with several key resolutions that will guide development of the global aviation industry in coming decades. A major agreement from the Assemby was on a market-based measure (MBM) for aviation-related carbon dioxide emissions.
1,845 participants from 184 Member States and 54 observer delegations attended the 38th Assembly held in Montréal, Canada from 24 September to 4 October 2013.
Summary of major developments
Safety still paramount
On safety, the Assembly reiterated the aviation industry’s commitment to reduce the rate and number of accidents worldwide. This work will now be guided by incremental targets established in a revised ICAO Global Aviation Safety Plan (GASP).
The revised GASP gives ICAO a clear mandate to continue driving greater transparency, collaboration and responsiveness in safety improvement through real-time analysis and reporting cycles and greater regional accountability. ICAO will be furthering these efforts through more intensive engagement with all regional players, and the sharing of critical safety information.
Air navigation capacity and efficiency
The Assembly endorsed the revised ICAO Global Air Navigation Plan (GANP). The GANP will permit ICAO to practically and flexibly realize the long-sought after goal of a globally-harmonized Air Navigation system. With its extensively-detailed aviation system block upgrade modules, the revised GANP provides greater levels of transparency and planning to governments, regional implementation groups, service providers, airspace users and industry stakeholders. It provides clear guidance on the required operational targets and supporting standards needed over the next 15 years, not to mention the specific technologies, procedures and regulatory approvals these will be based on.
Security and facilitation
The 38th Assembly confirmed ICAO’s emphasis on achieving greater balance between effective control measures and system-wide connectivity and efficiency. ICAO member states further acknowledged the progress made since the 37th Assembly in enhancing civil aviation security, notably through the strengthening of Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) dealing with air cargo, the delivery of technical assistance and cooperation in all regions, and the completion of the second cycle of the Organization’s Universal Security Audit Programme (USAP).
The Assembly also endorsed new directions in Security and Facilitation, such as the Continuous Monitoring Approach (CMA) to security audits and ICAO’s new Traveller Identification Programme strategy.
Economic development of air transport
ICAO will now have a stronger mandate to lead development on a long-term vision for liberalization, a global regulatory framework and related policy guidance. Key to these efforts will be the development of international agreements to facilitate liberalization of market access, air carrier ownership and air cargo services, as well as ICAO’s continued support to governments efforts in international air transport liberalization.
The Assembly acknowledged the development of core principles for consumer protection as a further matter of priority for ICAO, as is the development of guidlines on the impact of taxation and charges on air transport.
ICAO was directed to provide guidance on: the funding and financing of aviation infrastructure development; safety, security and economic oversight functions; as well as incentive mechanisms to support the timely implementation of the aviation system block upgrade modules.
The Assembly agreed on a strategy and established a very ambitious work programme for capacity building and assistance to states to reduce emissions. The development of a new standard for aircraft noise was clearly welcomed by the Assembly. Also strongly endorsed was ICAO’s continuing work to aid wider implementation of sustainable alternative fuels.
Discussions on a market-based measure (MBM) for emissions were more complex. In the end, ICAO forged a landmark MBM agreement among it’s member states, a first for air transport as it now becomes the only major industry sector to have a multilateral global MBM agreement in place to help govern future greenhouse gas emissions.
The Assembly adopted a resolution to promote the ratification of the Beijing Convention and the Beijing Protocol of 2010. These two new treaties have strengthened the global aviation security regime to meet new and emerging threats.
The Assembly also adopted another resolution to promote the ratification and urge universal adoption of the Montréal Convention of 1999. This instrument modernizes the legal regime regarding air carrier liability and facilitates the use of paperless air transport documents.