A coalition of major aviation organisations in the world has held a high level meeting and issued a declaration committing all parties to review processes for the overflight of conflict zones.
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) reported that these aviation bodies include International Air Transport Association (IATA), International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), Airports Council International (ACI) and the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO).
ICAO called the meeting in the aftermath of the tragic downing of MH17 over the Ukrainian airspace last month. The coalition said the tragic shooting down of MH17 was “an attack on the whole air transport industry”.
”The world’s airlines are angry. Civil aircraft are instruments of peace. They should not be the target of weapons of war. That is enshrined in the international law through the Chicago Convention,” said IATA’s Director-General and CEO, Tony Tyler.
At the end of the meeting, the declaration includes a commitment by ICAO with the support of industry partners, to immediately establish a senior level task force composed of state and industry experts. This group will address the civil aviation and national security issues arising from MH17.
In particular, the task force will look at how relevant information can be effectively collected and disseminated.
IATA will be a participant on the task force. The industry called on ICAO to address two critical issues: one, fail-safe channels for essential threat information to be made available to civil aviation authorities and the industry and two, the need to incorporate into international law, through appropriate United Nations’ frameworks, measures to govern the design, manufacture and deployment of modern anti-aircraft weaponry.
The first is most urgent. To ensure that governments provide airline with better information with which to make risk assessments of various threats they may face.
The second is equally important but requires a longer time frame. The coalition will find ways through international law that will oblige governments with better ways to control weapons which have the capability to pose a danger to civil aviation. Clear, accurate and timely information on risks is critical.
“We were told that flights traversing Ukraine’s territory at above 32,000 feet would not be in harm’s way. We now know how wrong that guidance was. It is essential that airlines receive clear guidance regarding threats to their passengers, crew and aircraft” Tyler said.
He noted that IATA stands willing to assist with the dissemination of such information.
In supporting the industry’s high expectation of the Task Force, Tyler re-assured the travelling public that flying today remains safe and secure.
”Every day about 100,000 flights take to the air and land safely. The systems supporting global aviation have produced the safest mode of transportation known to mankind.”
“There is no need for a major surgery. But we must identify and close some specific gaps in the system that however, infrequently lead to unspeakable mistakes and tragedies,” said Tyler.
ICAO, IATA, NCAA, ACI, CANSO ~ Task Force on Risks to Civil Aviation arising from Conflict Zones > Joint Statement