in Aerospace / Events

ICAO 40th Assembly targets offsetting emissions and innovation

Posted 26 September 2019

Over 2,600 Ministers and high-ranking government officials gathered at the Montréal Headquarters of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) this week, for the UN aviation agency’s 40th Assembly, with offsetting emissions at the top of the agenda.

Above: The 40th ICAO Assembly was opened on 24th September 2019 by the President of the ICAO Council, Dr Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu; the Secretary General of ICAO, Dr Fang Liu; the Premier of Quebec, Mr François Legault; the Deputy Minister of Transport for Canada, Mr Michael Keenan (far left) and the Mayor of Montréal, Ms Valérie Plante (far right).

The triennial event was officially opened on Tuesday 24th September by ICAO’s Council President, Dr. Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, who was joined on the occasion by the Premier of Québec Mr. Francois Legault, the Mayor of the City of Montréal Madame Valerie Plante, and the Deputy Minister of Transport for Canada, Mr Michael Keenan.

In his opening remarks to the assembled world air transport leaders, including States, NGOs, and regional and industry air transport associations, President Aliu stressed the need for resilient support of the CORSIA emissions offsetting framework which States adopted at the 2016 ICAO Assembly, highlighting that it could assure a more transparent and harmonized global approach and with guaranteed results for the planet’s climate.

“It is important for us to remember that CORSIA was adopted at the last Assembly after very difficult negotiations and to avoid a cumbersome patchwork of national measures for operators such as taxes which can impede global connectivity. It would therefore be counterproductive to aviation and climate change progress if we fail at this Assembly to assure CORSIA’s continuing launch as a truly global offsetting scheme for international flight emissions,” he underscored.

ICAO Secretary General, Dr. Fang Liu, reminded the Assembly that it would be endorsing a new three-year work programme for ICAO and establishing the new global consensus on the priorities civil aviation will pursue through the UN aviation agency.

“It will be our shared objective here over the coming days to ensure that ICAO continues to serve as the global forum for multilateral progress on international civil aviation, and that it be provided with a results-based budget to succeed at that mission,” she remarked. “We are proud to share with you that this year’s Assembly has seen a record number participants registered, as well as a record number of working and information papers processed.”

As 2019 marks the 75th Anniversary of ICAO, with the commemoration focusing on the future of flight. ICAO set the stage for the 40th Assembly with a special edition of its World Aviation Forum focused on innovation, and with an associated Innovation Fair where more than 50 companies representing new urban mobility and other aviation innovation entrants displayed wide ranging new ideas for new aircraft types and operations.

Referring to the exciting new ideas and capabilities appreciated in these pre-events by the Assembly’s participants, Council President Aliu stressed in his Assembly opening remarks how “this prioritization on new R&D recognizes the rapidly expanding capacity of the incredible new aircraft now being conceptualized, designed, and produced to fulfill new services and roles for civil societies.”

He also noted how the World Aviation Forum participants explored not only these potentials in depth but also “how innovation must be a guiding priority for civil aviation regulators as well, notably as they engage with these new entrants to assist and not impede the incredible evolution in flight now taking place. I was particularly encouraged at the Innovation Fair to witness how today’s aviation innovators are placing a very high priority on realising emissions-free green aviation solutions.”

Recalling that air transport traffic growth continues to be healthy in all world regions, President Aliu drew attention to how “collectively, as aviation leaders, we have a very critical responsibility to ensure that there are sufficient numbers of skilled personnel to manage the increasingly complex technological foundation for 21st century aviation.”

He also recognised how ICAO’s improved focus on assistance and capacity-building under No Country Left Behind has paid important safety and security dividends for ICAO Member States since it was established five years ago, stressing how air transport in Africa had zero fatalities in 2016 and 2017, and that the continent saw its average yearly accident rate decrease by 40 per cent from the previous three-year period.

Delegates to the 2019 event elected Mr. Nari Williams-Singh, the Director General of Civil Aviation of Jamaica, as President of the 40th Session of the Assembly.

Mr Williams-Singh will be helping to manage the event’s efficient decision-making on topics with global ramifications, including new revisions to ICAO’s Global Plans for Aviation Safety, Air Navigation Capacity and Efficiency, and Security, endorsements on new ICAO environmental trends and forecasts, agreement that ICAO should continue to promote the important socio-economic benefits of air transport and related objectives for new infrastructure development, and even the introduction of VR technologies for new aviation training methods.

The Assembly will also provide ICAO’s Member States with the opportunity to elect the Organization’s new 36-State Governing Council for the 2019-2022 period.

President Aliu ended off his remarks by noting that “This Assembly will be one for bold decisions, and a time to refine our vision for how air transport can be of even greater service to States and regions, businesses and travellers, in the exciting years ahead. I would encourage you to progress this work mindful of the global expectations now and always upon us, and in the spirit of the preamble to the Chicago Convention.”

“This is in order that international civil aviation can continue to help create and preserve friendship and understanding among the nations and peoples of the world, and to promote global security, peace, and prosperity,” he concluded.

IATA supports prioritising carbon neutral growth
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) expressed high expectations for the outcomes of the ICAO's 40th Assembly, supporting its focus on carbon neutral growth as the top topic on the agenda, whilst encouraging ICAO member states to get behind the industry's efforts to address its climate change impacts.

The industry's agenda also included:

  • The safe integration of drones into airspace management
  • Establishing a globally consistent approach to passengers with disabilities,
  • Implementing an international legal framework to manage the issue of unruly passengers
  • Implementing modern and convenient measures for passenger identification, and,
  • Reducing the vulnerability of Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) to harmful interference

Climate Change
“Three years ago, ICAO member states achieved an historic agreement to implement a Carbon Offset and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA). The whole aviation industry welcomed this significant commitment as part of the overall approach to meaningfully mitigate the industry’s climate change impact. Today, CORSIA is a reality with airlines tracking their emissions. Unfortunately, there is a real risk that CORSIA will be undermined by governments piling on additional carbon pricing instruments. They are branded ’green taxes‘ but we have yet to see any funds allocated to actually reducing carbon. CORSIA was agreed as the single global economic measure to achieve carbon-neutral growth by generating $40 billion in climate funding and offsetting around 2.5 billion tonnes of CO2 between 2021 and 2035. Governments need to focus on making that commitment a success,” said IATA’s Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac.

IATA, in cooperation with Airports Council International (ACI), the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO), the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC) and the International Coordinating Council of Aerospace Industries Associations (ICCAIA), coordinated by the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), submitted a working paper that, among other things, calls on governments to:

  • Reaffirm the importance of CORSIA at the ICAO Assembly
  • Participate in CORSIA from the voluntary period before it becomes mandatory in 2027
  • Reaffirm that CORSIA is “the market-based measure applying to CO2 emissions from international aviation,”
  • Stick to the principle that aviation’s international emissions should be accounted for only once, with no duplication

Safe and Efficient Integration of UAS (drones) into Airspace
Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS, also known as drones), have tremendous potential, including for door-to-door cargo shipments, urban air mobility and delivery of emergency supplies and medicines in remote areas. However, an absolute pre-requisite is their safe and efficient integration into airspace being used for the transportation of passengers.

“By 2023, drone operations in the US alone could triple according to some estimates. And the general trend is the same worldwide. The challenge is to achieve this potential safely. The safety of civil aviation is the model. Industry and governments must work in partnership on the global standards and innovations needed to safely achieve the tremendous potential of drones,” said de Juniac.

IATA, in cooperation with CANSO and the International Federation of Air Line Pilots Associations (IFALPA) submitted a working paper calling on states to work together through ICAO and in cooperation with industry to develop provisions for these airspace new entrants.

Passengers with Disabilities

The airline industry is committed to improving the air travel experience for the estimated one billion people living with disabilities worldwide. Airlines reaffirmed this commitment in a resolution at IATA’s 2019 Annual General Meeting. However, the industry’s ability to ensure that passengers living with disability can travel safely and with dignity--in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities--is being undermined by a steady increase in national/regional disability policies that are either not harmonized or are in direct conflict with each other.

“With ageing populations, the number of people traveling with disabilities is growing and will continue to do so. To travel with confidence, they rely on consistent measures applied globally. And a harmonised global framework is equally essential for airlines to serve their customers with disabilities in a safe, secure, efficient and consistent manner,” said de Juniac. Furthermore, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development calls for targeted actions related to persons with disabilities by businesses, including in the transport sector.

IATA has submitted a working paper asking states to reaffirm that a harmonized approach to the work on accessibility in aviation is a contributor to the achievement of the UN SDGs. It also recommends that ICAO develop a work program on accessibility for passengers with disabilities that includes a review of relevant ICAO standards and recommended practices and policy manuals, with due consideration to the IATA core principles on disabled passengers.

Unruly Passengers
With reports of unruly passengers rising steadily, IATA, IFALPA and the International Transport Workers’ Federation, submitted a working paper urging states to ratify the Montreal Protocol of 2014 (MP14) which modernises international procedures for dealing with unruly passengers. The working paper also calls on governments to avail themselves of the latest ICAO guidance on legal aspects of dealing with disruptive passengers.

MP14 addresses gaps in existing international agreements that mean disruptive passengers rarely face prosecution for their misbehaviour. Twenty-two states have to ratify MP14 to bring it into force, which is expected to occur before the end of this year. However, to ensure uniformity and certainty, widespread ratification is needed.

“Incidents of unruly passengers are unfortunately a growing problem and they are always unacceptable. No passenger or crewmember should be subject to insult, threats or abuse from another air traveler. And the safety of flight should never be endangered by passenger behavior. Adoption of MP14 will ensure that states have the necessary powers to deal with unruly passengers irrespective of where the aircraft is registered,” said de Juniac.

One ID

IATA’s vision is to lead the industry in delivering an end-to-end passenger experience that is secure, seamless and efficient. One ID uses identity management and biometric recognition to streamline the passenger journey. In doing so, One ID will free the process of paper documentation and enable passengers to move through various airport processes with a single travel token that is accepted by all stakeholders involved in the passenger’s journey.

“Air travelers have told us that they are willing to share personal information if it removes some of the hassle from air travel, as long as that information is kept secure and not misused. In addition to benefits for travelers, One ID will make it hard for individuals to cross borders under a false identity, and thus help combat human trafficking and other cross-border criminal activities. It will help to reduce queues and crowds in more vulnerable airport landside areas. And it enables the possibility of risk-based assessment and differentiated handling at border and security checkpoints. One ID is the way of the future and we need to accelerate progress,” said de Juniac.

In partnership with ACI, IATA introduced a working paper requesting the ICAO Council to continue to develop a global policy and technical specifications supporting the use of biometric recognition in aviation. The working paper also encourages states to support initiatives which contribute to the enhancement of global standards ensuring the secure interchange of passenger digital identify information among stakeholders. It invites states to explore the benefits of biometric recognition to secure and facilitate the passenger process.
Addressing Harmful Interference to GNSS

The global navigation satellite system (GNSS) provides essential position and timing information supporting flight and air traffic management (ATM) operations. However, a number of reports have been received of harmful interference to GNSS. IATA, the International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers’ Associations (IFATCA) and IFALPA submitted a working paper asking the Assembly to take appropriate mitigation measures to reduce the vulnerability of GNSS to interference and to ensure appropriate frequency regulations are in place and maintained to protect allocated GNSS frequencies.

In addition to these subjects, IATA and aviation stakeholders submitted working papers on a wide-range of other issues including human trafficking, trafficking in wildlife, safety information sharing, cyber security, pandemics, air traffic management infrastructure, security and airport slots, among others.



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