All but six of the International Civil Aviation Organisation's 190 member states have agreed that ICAO may publish the results of the organisation's universal safety oversight audit programme (USOAP) revealing standards at their national aviation authorities.
Not all results are flattering, but the summaries are now transparent and can be viewed by ordinary travellers.
In agreeing, these states have taken up a challenge issued two years ago at ICAO's Montreal headquarters when the then president of the council Assad Kotaite tried to gain consensus for all audit results to be published, but this was rejected.
He encouraged those who had passed the audit to publish their results voluntarily, and won agreement for ICAO to publish the results of consenting states by 23 March this year, which it has just done.
Many states – some 44 of them – were a week or so late in providing permission for ICAO to publish the results, and ICAO has not been able to post all the latest details of some of these yet because they have not been fully assembled, but the principle has been established that as soon as the summaries have been prepared they will be published on the web.
This measure also provides an incentive to the six states that have not done so to go public soon, or risk putting themselves on what could be construed as a blacklist by default. ICAO admits that there are some states, like Afghanistan, where conflict has made it impossible to carry out a USOAP because of the dangers to its inspectors.
"The fact that most states have authorised ICAO to go public means that they recognise the critical safety benefit of transparency," says Roberto Kobeh González, the incumbent president of the ICAO council.
He adds: "Being aware of problems in various states and of the effective solutions developed to solve them, can help other states correct their own deficiencies identified under USOAP. It also makes it easier for states and donors to co-operate in providing assistance where needed, and helps the public make informed decisions about the safety of air transportation."
Note: there apears to be a temporary problem with the ICAO links.