In the best attended and probably the most active assembly in its history, the International Civil Aviation Organisation has ratified crucial objectives for the world's airline industry, ranging from safety and security assurance measures to action on man portable air defence system (Manpads) missiles.
Passenger health and new requirements to control aviation's effect on the environment were introduced to the agenda, and the assembly saw a comprehensive defeat for US efforts to prevent action that could result in aviation fuel taxes and pollution penalties elsewhere in the world, particularly within the European Union.
At the organisation's 35th assembly, concluded this month in Montreal, Canada, ICAO's universal safety oversight audit programme (USOAP) has been upgraded to include not only aircraft operations and airworthiness, but also the provision of quality air traffic control. Voting by the record quorum of 1,304 delegates from 175 contracting states has also authorised a deliberate shift away from simply meeting technical standards towards a specific demand to prove performance and delivery, says ICAO.
Passenger and crew health, and also the environment beyond the vicinity of airports, have both entered the international standards arena for the first time, as has a demand that ICAO's 188 contracting states revise their laws to protect incident reporting information that is voluntarily shared for the good of aviation safety. National laws on incident reporting, the assembly agreed, should "strike a balance between accessibility and the protection of information".
Passenger health on international flights was formally acknowledged as "an integral element of safe air travel". The resolution calls for a review of the standards applying to passenger health, pledged support for research on the subject, and the creation of new standards where required.
Following a general resolution that states should accelerate their progress toward the full implementation of Annex 17 - the security provisions - the assembly specifically called for all states that have not already done so to adopt the Convention on the Marking of Plastic Explosives to make them easily detectable. Additionally, the meeting called for all member nations to destroy Manpads, or to "exercise strict controls" on their movement and storage.
DAVID LEARMOUNT / LONDON
Source: Flight International