ICAO readies for MOU with US, EU and IATA for global safety exchange

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ICAO at the opening of its 37th Assembly on 28 September plans to sign a memorandum of understanding with IATA, the FAA and the European Union to create a global safety information exchange to identify emerging risks to mitigate issues before an accident occurs.

Secretary General of ICAO Raymond Benjamin revealed plans for the signing during the ICAO/McGill University pre-ICAO Assembly conference on 26 September.

Illustrating ICAO's objective to find ways of reducing accident rates globally Benjamin says: "If accident rates remain stable, the growth in traffic expected throughout this decade and beyond could lead to one major accident every two weeks. This is clearly unacceptable."

ICAO plans to take the lead in setting up the systems, says Benjamin, and eventually will coordinate "the dissemination of information throughout the aviation community".

In a separate interview with ATI Benjamin explained that he's also had discussions with Flight Safety Foundation president Bill Voss about its participation in the global database. Explaining ICAO had to begin the data sharing with IATA and governmental organisations Benjamin says he does not foresee a problem with bringing Flight Safety into the programme.

Member states of ICAO during the assembly also plan to address a recommendation by a high level safety conference convened by the organisation in March of this year that ICAO examine technical enhancements to improve ability to recover black boxes through longer time periods to emit signals and better resistance to crashes. The scrutiny was prompted by the 1 June 2009 crash of Air France flight AF447 en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris.

"Very often it is not a technical problem, it is a money problem," says Benjamin. "To have a black box that is emitting longer is not a big deal."

Noting three attempts have been launched to locate the Airbus A330's black box he stresses not knowing what happened "leaves a climate of uncertainty".