A High-Level Safety Conference which concluded today established a strong mandate for the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to create a strategy to further reduce the global accident rate, through the sharing of safety-related information among Member States and the air transport industry.
More than 600 participants at the four-day event, attended by Ministers and Directors General of Civil Aviation from 150 Member countries as well as industry representatives, recommended that ICAO create a global safety information exchange to enable analysis of key safety indicators. This will guide future strategic decisions related to the evolution of todays air transportation system. The Conference called upon ICAO to facilitate the collection, analysis and dissemination of safety information provided by States and industry partners, throughout the international aviation community. The Conference further recommended that ICAO develop processes to give the general public access to relevant safety information, thereby allowing them to make an informed decision about the safety of air transportation and to further ensure that such information is used solely to improve aviation safety and not for retribution or the purpose of gaining economic advantage. We have traditionally focused our efforts on accident reports as a means to improve safety. This new approach will help us to better identify and deal with safety threats before they result in accidents, said Roberto Kobeh González, President of the Council of ICAO. Regulators and industry must come to manage safety-critical information in the same way that they view accidents. Both must become triggers for action in preventing accidents, he added. On Tuesday, ICAO, the Federal Aviation Administration of the United States (FAA), the Commission of the European Union (EC) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) signed a Declaration of Intent on the development of a global safety information exchange agreement. In the months to come, the parties will establish an operational framework for the information exchange. It will address technical, confidentiality, legal and policy implications, as well as the relevance and timing of information collected. ICAO has long promoted the concept of information sharing on a global scale so as to connect the various databases of regulators and industry. The recommendation from the Conference and the Declaration of Intent represent a breakthrough in achieving our objective of better utilizing data to reduce the accident rate globally and in specific regions and States around the world, Mr. Kobeh emphasized. On the question of black boxes, the Conference recommended that ICAO look into technical enhancements that would improve the ability to locate and recover the units, such as longer time periods for signals, better resistance to crashes and floatability. While the electronic transmission of information during flights is progressively improving, black boxes will remain absolutely indispensable for years to come as the primary source of technical data in cases of accidents or incidents, Mr. Kobeh said. The Conference also called on States and industry to ensure improved communication and surveillance of flights over oceanic and remote areas through the use of all available technologies. Reaffirming the fundamental mission of ICAO to ensure the safety of international civil aviation, the Conference endorsed the creation of a new Annex to the Convention on International Civil Aviation, one dedicated exclusively to safety management principles. Recommendations from the Conference will be submitted to the Council of ICAO for consideration in the coming weeks.