General Interest

ICAO highlights UN Public Service Day

The UN Public Service Day celebrates the value and virtue of public service to the community, highlights the contribution of public service in the development process, recognizes the work of public servants, and encourages young people to pursue careers in the public sector.

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is a specialized UN agency. Its Secretariat is led by the ICAO Secretary General who appoints staff members at all levels. By accepting appointment, staff members become international civil servants bound to discharge their functions. The ICAO Secretariat serves its 191 Member States and industry groups to reach consensus on international civil aviation Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) and policies in support of a safe, efficient, secure, economically sustainable and environmentally responsible civil aviation sector.

The Secretary General of ICAO, Dr. Fang Liu (fourth from right, front row), joins ICAO’s senior management and staff in celebrating UN Public Service Day in ICAO’s Assembly Hall.

The ICAO Secretariat has a total of 701 staff members of which  525 are based in Headquarters, Montréal, Canada (photo above);  23 in the Asia and Pacific Office in Bangkok, Thailand; 22 in the Eastern and Southern African Office in Nairobi, Kenya; 24 in the Western and Central African Office in Dakar, Senegal;  19 in the Middle East Office in Cairo, Egypt; 45 in the European and North Atlantic Office in Paris, France, including 18 including 18 ECAC staff members; 22 in the South American Office in Lima, Peru; and 21 in the North American, Central American and Caribbean Office in Mexico City, Mexico.

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Security & Facilitation

ICAO rapidly reviewing laptop and device restrictions to help balance safety and security concerns

In recent months laptops and other portable electronic devices (PEDs) have been highlighted as a risk to aircraft and passenger security because of the threat of improvised explosive devices being concealed in them. As a result, some countries have imposed restrictions on the ability of passengers to carry these items with them into the aircraft cabin. ICAO is reviewing the combined security and safety risks to ensure a balanced and effective response on behalf of aviation globally.

ICAO Council President Dr. Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu gave a keynote address at the International Air Transport Association’s Annual General Meeting in Cancun, Mexico on 5 June 2017. He advised world airline CEOs that security and safety risks must be effectively balanced when considering any restrictions on passengers’ personal electronic devices (PEDs) being permitted in aircraft cabins.

“We recognize that the number of business and pleasure travellers wishing to carry their laptops or other devices into aircraft in the years ahead will continue to increase, with those devices becoming more and more important to their productivity and social needs,” President Aliu highlighted. “Our guiding priority in the ICAO Council, when we review this matter this fall during our 212th Session, will be to ensure that all related security and safety risks are fully considered and prudently balanced.”



“ICAO has established a Multidisciplinary Cargo Safety Group to consider the combined safety, security and facilitation aspects of this issue,” the President continued, “at the end of May our Aviation Security Panel recommended a new Task Force be established to further review the security risks from improvised explosive devices which can be concealed in passenger devices. We are working rapidly to ensure this work will be completed in time to permit the Council’s comprehensive review later this year.”

ICAO helps to coordinate global responses to aviation security risks. Last October, at its 39th Assembly, States asked that it develop a new Global Aviation Security Plan to aid those efforts. The first draft of the new global plan was endorsed by the recent Aviation Security Panel meeting. The conclusions will be made available for review by the ICAO Council later this month.

While speaking on security at the IATA AGM, President Aliu also highlighted that cybersecurity continues to be a matter of serious concern to the air transport sector, which began coordinating its threat assessments and response planning several years ago.

He stressed to the IATA airline CEOs that “The definition of this threat context is especially relevant today, given that new System-wide Information Management (SWIM) provisions will begin to come into force as of 2018, making us more connected and integrated as a global network than ever before.”

ICAO developed Guidelines for the Expanded Use of Portable Electronic Devices (Cir 340) in 2014. This circular provides guidance for States who wish to allow operators to transition to an expanded use of portable electronic devices (PEDs) by passengers during critical phases of flight.

These and many other issues will be at the top of the agenda when ICAO convenes its inaugural Aviation Security Symposium this September.


The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), in collaboration with Airports Council International (ACI), will be holding the inaugural Global Aviation Security Symposium (AVSEC2017) from 12 – 14 September, 2017 at ICAO Headquarters in Montréal, Canada. Register now!

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Capacity & Efficiency

The impact of aviation training on one man’s career

I should open this by saying that I still feel new to the aviation industry.  I vividly recall my conversation with the Mayor of Atlanta about the appointment. When he brought me into his office and told me he needed me at the airport to replace the outgoing CFO, I was the Deputy Chief Financial Officer for the City of Atlanta.

I had never worked at an airport.

He assured me this did not matter.

In January of 2011, I started my airport aviation career at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (H-JAIA), the world’s busiest and most efficient airport.

At H-JAIA I quickly rose to Deputy General Manager/Chief Financial Officer and after three years, when the Mayor was looking to replace the retiring General Manager of the airport, very surprisingly, my name was being floated as a possible replacement.  While I was amused by this notion, the mayor quickly squashed the rumors by stating that I did not have enough industry experience to run an airport.

And he was right.

My career goals never involved working at an airport, let alone running one. At the airport my most immediate ambition was to become completely immersed in understanding the aviation industry and more specifically, how airports work.  I would then apply my financial experience and acumen with the hopes of putting H-JAIA in the best financial position to achieve its goals and objectives.

I was able to achieve this goal by building a great financial team and by setting and reaching financial targets.  We achieved seven bond rating agency  upgrades in my first five years.  Knowing that we would have a new capital improvement programme underway in the near future, this was critical.

As I established a new baseline of excellence in financial management for H-JAIA, I knew I had to expand how I could add high value as a Deputy General Manager. I needed to understand every aspect of how an airport is managed and the role it plays in the aviation industry.  The natural path of this additional knowledge was through the Airport Management Professional Accreditation Programme (AMPAP).  I truly believe that sometimes during a career one needs a lot of luck or an “alignment with the stars” to create a path to continued growth.  It just so happened that the newly appointed General Manager at H-JAIA was a huge supporter/promoter of the AMPAP programme, so I began my journey to airport aviation enlightenment with AMPAP as the vessel.

My initial AMPAP course was not the Gateway course, Air Transport, but instead an elective, the Airport Executive Leadership Programme (AELP).  Again, I think the stars aligned for me.  The class was held in Canada and I had the chance to meet Dr. Pierre Coutu, who was the AMPAP Programme Director.  His address to that class set me in motion, with the proper mindset for how AMPAP can accelerate the narrowing of the chasm that existed between me being a novice in this industry, and the knowledge I would need to make an impact through my role.



In addition to Dr. Coutu, those taking the course with me also proved to be a source of inspiration.  The majority of them were at the tail-end of their IAP certification requirements.  The number of different nationalities in the course escapes me, but it truly felt like the United Nations for the week we were together.  The camaraderie that was displayed was incredible.  I realized after that first course that there was a universal commitment to making this industry the best worldwide.  My tempo and addiction for industry excellence was set in motion.

I approached each subsequent programme course with that mindset.  Reflectively, when I started at H-JAIA, I was told by so many during my first few weeks that this industry will get in your blood and never leave.  As I started my AMPAP journey I understood what they meant. I was smitten.

To be clear, a programme like AMPAP is not an easy journey.  If you could put your job on hold then maybe, just maybe, it would be a bit easier – AMPAP is a very consuming effort – requiring uncompromising commitment.  Each course involves coursework and discussions on topics that are relevant to the day-to-day activities that an airport professional encounters.

The group assignment was by far the most interesting part of each course; the way each group was unknowingly formed, always seemed to create a great group dynamic.  With the majority of all coursework done through the Portal, managing to complete the group assignment was a challenge, but each group member was committed to making it work. Again, the spirit of camaraderie was present.  There was no greater feeling, and relief, than that found when you completed all the coursework to be certified as an International Airport Professional.



I completed my programme and was a proud member of the 2016 graduating class and was even selected as class valedictorian.  At that time I had been named Interim General Manager of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Four months later I was confirmed as General Manager of H-JAIA.

Though this appointment is still incredible to me, I am prepared to face this challenge and opportunity.  As I matured through each of my AMPAP courses, I recognized the leap of faith and confidence that was rising within me that only comes from the acquisition of knowledge.  Each day in this new role brings with it new, ever-changing dynamics.  I am ready.


The 18 graduates from the AMPAP class of 2016 from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport


I was humbled to have spoken to the 2016 AMPAP graduating class, an audience that included many of the 118 graduates from around the world who received the coveted international airport professional designation. Each of us had a different story that led us to that day, but as different as our stories were, there was a common thread that bound us all: we were fortunate that those before us had the vision and commitment to understand that this industry requires a collective set of rules and standards of excellence.

AMPAP was our vessel. The programme is so meticulously designed and administered, that it creates a sense of excellence that is unparalleled. Its existence was founded on the premise of sharing ideas and knowledge across an industry that means so much to each of us. AMPAP has become the definitive tool for developing airport professionals around the globe.  I went on to thank the AMPAP team and instructors, and both ICAO’s Secretary General and ACI’s Director General and my own former General Manager for his commitment to this programme. In the class of 2016 there were 18 graduates from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

AMPAP has been a great experience.  It provided me with analytical tools and intellectual confidence. It gave me best practices, strategies, and an immense pool of resources that I can draw upon.  Make no mistake, AMPAP is not an easy journey.  It becomes part of your daily calendar and sometimes takes late nights into early mornings.  But it helps to know that others are also making this journey with you, across different time zones, nations, and continents.  Those you meet along the way keep you going and focused.

We entered an era where the next wave of highly skilled airport professionals is taking the reins worldwide.  And with so many challenges before us, our class is ready to rise up and meet these challenges, armed with the knowledge and commitment that our support does not stop at our doors but spans across all the nations and continents that are a part of ACI and ICAO.


The Global ACI-ICAO Airport Management Professional Accreditation Programme (AMPAP) is a strategic initiative born from a partnership between ACI and ICAO that launched in March 2007. In recognizing the challenges and complexity that constitute airport management, AMPAP seeks to develop a new generation of airport leaders in all functional areas of the airport business and promote the adherence to the highest professional standards and effective sharing of best managerial practices. This is carried out in a cross-cultural, highly interactive learning environment.

AMPAP is universally available to airport executives. Successful completion provides its candidates with the opportunity to broaden their career horizons as they earn the ACI-ICAO International Airport Professional (IAP) designation. The IAP designation has quickly earned a reputation as a hallmark of excellence among the global airport professional community. AMPAP participants are spread across all continents in over 100 countries.


About the author

Roosevelt Council, Jr. became General Manager of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in January of 2017, after holding several positions at the airport. He has more than 30 years of experience as a financial professional.  He has served as CFO with the City of Atlanta and with the State of Georgia Technology Authority.


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SKY TALKS: Miguel Ramos discusses the future of RPAS

Watch Miguel Ramos, Technical Officer at ICAO, discuss the future of remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS).



Interested in learning more about RPAS? ICAO will be holding a Remotely Piloted Aircraft Symposium from 17 – 18 July in Abuja, Nigeria. Under a general theme of sharing experiences and challenges regarding remotely piloted aviation in Africa, the event will provide a unique opportunity for States, international organizations and stakeholders to share experiences in addressing RPAS operations across the African continent and Indian ocean focusing on challenges to be overcome and benefits to be obtained, identifying how existing rules need to evolve to facilitate entrance of the RPAS community into the civil aviation system, examining alignment between ongoing RPAS development and supporting regulatory provisions. To learn more about the event, visit our website.




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SKY TALKS: NUCTECH presents the challenges of air cargo screening

Security & Facilitation

Live stream June 16 at 9:00AM EST: Air cargo screening challenges

Check back this Friday, 16 June at 9:00AM EST for the live streaming of a new Sky Talks.  Daniel Goh from NUCTECH will be discussing the challenges and methodologies of air cargo screening. The ICAO Twitter feed and Facebook page will also be carrying the live stream.

Do you want to see NUCTECH’s technology in action and hear from leading AVSEC experts? Register for ICAO’s inaugural Global Aviation Security Symposium, an event that will bring together AVSEC professionals from around the globe to enhance the mind-set towards aviation security. #AVSEC2017 will also encourage international cooperation and collaboration to address the threat posed by terrorists targeting civil aviation by reinforcing, strengthening and promoting the international framework of aviation security standards.

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Security & Facilitation

A new direction: ICAO’s Universal Security Audit Programme (USAP)

The establishment of the USAP is a key element in ICAO’s response to global civil aviation security threats. USAP audits provide States with the information they require in order to make informed and effective decisions on how to improve their aviation security and oversight systems.

ICAO’s Universal Security Audit Programme (USAP) is widely recognized for its promotion and enhancement of global aviation security. The Programme has created targeted  assistance activities, and provided States with advice, guidance and recommendations to enhance their existing aviation security systems and structures. Additionally, an important side benefit is that the Programme allows for the targeting of assistance activities, and provides States with advice, guidance and recommendations to assist in enhancing their existing aviation security systems and structures . This helps to further enable the global harmonization of the interpretation and application of ICAO Annex 17 – Security Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs), and the security-related provisions of Annex 9 – Facilitation.

ICAO has continuously worked to enhance the quality and efficiency of the Programme. The USAP has now evolved into an innovative, dynamic, and tailored approach to security auditing: the Continuous Monitoring Approach (USAP-CMA) specific to aviation security. The USAP-CMA incorporates a risk-based approach, using various key parameters to determine the type, scope, priority and frequency of audit and monitoring activities.

Development of the USAP-CMA

As early as 2010, the ICAO Secretariat began developing plans for the future of the USAP based on observations from its study group.

Based on this group’s feedback and recommendations, it was determined that an approach unique to aviation security and involving continuous monitoring was the most appropriate option. The Council of ICAO formally approved the move to a USAP-CMA in October 2012. Initial testing of USAP-CMA activities began in 2014, with full-scale implementation of the new approach beginning in January 2015.

USAP-CMA activities offer a number of advantages over the previous approach to auditing. Foremost among these is the ability to update audit results as required. The flexible risk-management-based framework also results in a tailored auditing system.

As of 30 April 2017, a total of 58 USAP-CMA activities have been conducted in 55 States, including 42 on‑site audits, 13 documentation-based audits and 3 validation missions.

Benefits of the USAP-CMA

The USAP-CMA continues to promote global aviation security by monitoring all Member States. However, the scope and frequency of each State’s monitoring activities depends on its security situation. While the USAP-CMA does not replace foreign inspection programmes, it does determine the status of implementation of States’ aviation security oversight systems. It also provides an indication of each State’s level of compliance with security-related standards and recommended proceduresSARPs. The USAP-CMA audits provide States with recommendations to improve their security systems and oversight capabilities. The audits also facilitate the targeting and tailoring of assistance projects. For States needing to prioritize their foreign inspection plans, it provides information that can optimize their resources.

ICAO has also introduced a new type of audit report for the USAP-CMA. The new report helps States in the development and implementation of corrective action plans, and allows for findings to be addressed in the short, medium and long terms. These findings assist States in making the most effective use of their resources to improve civil aviation security systems.

USAP audits produce positive results

Since the inception of the USAP, over 250 aviation security experts from Member States have received USAP auditor training and certification. This training has provided them with a common understanding of what is necessary to comply with international aviation security, oversight requirements, and best practices. By participating in audits,   Their participation has also enabled them to observe global and regional best practices and take lessons learned back to their own States.


While moving forward  with the USAP-CMA, it is important to note  that the USAP, together with the information it generates, is a tool to assist Member States in meeting their obligations to international aviation security SARPs. While the responsibility for implementing security measures will remain with individual Member States, the USAP will continue to play an essential role in the effort to improve global aviation security.


Register now for AVSEC2017,  your one-stop shop for the latest in security thought leadership. Join aviation security professionals from around the world to discuss the challenges facing aviation security and help in identifying solutions that can strengthen the international framework. Don’t miss this 3-day symposium, held at ICAO Headquarters in collaboration with Airports Council International.

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New Sky Talks: Global Aviation Training provides solutions to training challenges

ICAO’s Global Aviation Training (GAT) programme, established in 2014, is responsible for the planning, management and coordination of all ICAO aviation training activities. Their core mission is to ensure the efficient, effective and harmonized implementation of the ICAO training policies. The GAT programme is continuously identifying needs and providing solutions to Member States.

Through a survey conducted in 2015, they identified a common need of members for standardized training programmes, procedures and manuals, and a method for accurately tracking training that has been completed.

ICAO responded to these needs by developing an all-encompassing approach to training.

This approach is carried out in three parts:

1) Assessments: to identify the gaps and challenges of member organizations. As well as proposing solutions to address those gaps.

2) Training development: where ICAO helps to ensure proper instructional design methodologies are employed. Additionally, to ensure that the training materials are delivered by quality instructors, GAT offers a train the trainer program.

3) Label: provide training access, which gives trainers access to a global network of cooperative training.


Watch Mekki Lahlou, TrainAir Plus Programme Coordinator, discuss how ICAO is providing solutions to training needs worldwide:

Sky Talks aims to stimulate discussions and grow the aviation community by sharing knowledge, resources and ideas.

During the A39 Assembly, ICAO embarked on a new initiative which is meant to help us bring our hosted workshops to a broader audience throughout the year. The A39 workshops launched as Sky Talks, a dynamic video experience that shares the knowledge of authoritative presenters and knowledgeable industry professionals. The format included 30-minute presentations in front of a live conference audience. The taped presentations are being edited and will be released to the public through this blog, and our associated social media platforms, reaching hundreds of thousands of aviation professionals online.

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Economic Development

ICAO Secretary General highlights aviation benefits at the 21st St. Petersburg International Economic Forum

ICAO Secretary General Dr. Fang Liu delivered a series of determined messages on aviation’s connectivity, prosperity and sustainability benefits last week during meetings with the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, Mr. Dmitry Medvedev, the country’s Minister of Transport, Mr. Maxim Sokolov, as well as during her presentations to the 21st St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.


Dr. Fang Liu meeting with the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, Mr. Dmitry Medvedev


Participating at the St. Petersburg Forum, where she contributed to two panel discussions on future logistics and tourism development, Dr. Liu stressed the critical role of safe, secure and efficient air transport operations in expanding market and trade access. The Secretary General also stressed ICAO’s role in determining the international standards and recommended practices which help States to optimize aviation’s socio-economic contributions. She further outlined the very positive impacts aviation delivers as it aids cities, States and Regions to leverage the unique international logistical and other benefits of global air transport connectivity.

“Travel and tourism’s contributions to world GDP outpaced the global economy growth rate for the sixth consecutive year in 2016, rising to an average total of 10.2 per cent or a total of 7.6 trillion dollars,” Dr. Liu emphasized. “With respect to the central role which aviation plays in this process, 53 per cent of tourists travelled by air to reach their international destinations last year. Air transport therefore plays a larger role in terms of tourism potential than all other modes of transport combined.”

When discussing the role of air cargo and the 21st century global marketplace, Dr. Liu stressed to the event participants “the importance of air cargo with respect to high-value goods, just-in-time freight operations, and the ever-expanding modern e-commerce activities we are seeing worldwide. ICAO’s data has shown that the air cargo share of items purchased online is projected to grow to a remarkable 91% by 2025,” she continued, “and these numbers support why many of the expectations now instilled in modern consumers – whether for access to global products or next-day delivery – are wholly dependent on aircraft to deliver their goods rapidly and reliably.”

“I’m sure we can all agree that Russia has a very robust foundation from which to pursue further tourism growth and sustainable prosperity for Russian cities and regions,” Dr. Liu summarized to the St. Petersburg Forum participants. “We all have much to gain from cooperating, and ICAO is already pursuing a wide range of programmes. We look forward to the Russian Federation’s continued partnership and engagement in our goals through ICAO, and to our work aiding both your domestic and international tourism objectives, well into the future.”


Meeting with the country’s Minister of Transport, Mr. Maxim Sokolov


Dr. Liu was in Moscow and St. Petersburg to conduct bilateral discussions with Russian Federation Prime Minister and the State’s Minister of Transport. Their high-level discussions centred around the need for strong State commitments and investments in modernized infrastructure to safely and efficiently manage future air transport growth and in strengthening national aviation safety oversight capacities.

These key messages were further reiterated throughout Dr. Liu’s meetings with other senior transport officials of the Russian Federation, including Mr. Igor Levitin, the President of the Russian Federation’s Assistant responsible for transport, Mr. Valery Okulov, the Ministry of Transport’s Deputy Minister, and Mr. Viktor Basargin, Head of the Federal Authority for Transport Oversight.

The Russian Federation’s leader expressed commitment to global cooperation on air transport sustainability, and agreed with Dr. Liu to enhance cooperation with ICAO on aviation safety and the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), and to provide voluntary contributions for translation of the ICAO website and publications and secondments to support ICAO programme activities, in particular the “No Country Left Behind” initiative.

Dr. Liu was accompanied by the Representative of the Russian Federation on the Council of ICAO, Mr. Alexey A. Novgorodov, and the ICAO Regional Director, Mr Luis Fonseca de Almeida.

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Pumping up alternative fuels

“Sustainable alternative fuels are now poised to make important contributions with respect to near-term gains.” That was the hopeful message conveyed by Dr. Olumuyiwa Bernard Aliu, President of the ICAO Council, at the ICAO Seminar on Alternative Fuels in Montréal.

The February seminar was a prelude to a planned high-level ICAO Conference on Aviation Alternative Fuels which will be convened later in 2017. The high-level conference will focus on bringing together the elements of a global vision for development and deployment of alternative fuels as one approach in the basket of measures to decrease international aviation’s environmental impact.

The seminar reviewed the status of worldwide activities on the use of alternative fuels in aviation, life-cycle analysis methodologies and sustainability criteria, financing and assistance programmes, legal and regulatory frameworks, the role of biofuels in States’ Voluntary Action Plans for reducing CO2 emissions, ICAO assistance projects, and the global market-based measure (Carbon Offset and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation, or CORSIA), which was agreed by the 39th ICAO Assembly in October 2016.



“While today’s commercial aircraft may be 80 per cent more fuel efficient and 75 per cent quieter than the first commercial jets, we must also keep in mind that the fuel efficiency improvements achieved, whether through new technologies or more efficient flight procedures, will likely not be enough to keep up with projected traffic growth,” said Dr. Aliu. “More must be done. We will therefore be focusing greater attention this year on policies to enhance the use of alternative fuels.”

Presenters represented an array of stakeholders such as Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL), International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC), the Roundtable on Sustainable Bio Materials (RSB), Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the European Commission, Airports Council International, Airbus, Boeing, BombardierAir Canada, KLM, United Airlines, Virgin Australia, and a long list of others.



In an unusual approach, presenters in the opening roundtable and delegates were asked to highlight three main issues they think should be addressed with regard to alternative fuels for aviation. The result of the “three highlights” approach was a “word cloud” which represents the aggregate of the issues tabled for discussion.

For example, Michael Gill, representing ATAG, highlighted these policy requests: ambitious policy frameworks, a level playing field with other transport modes, and “dare to be brave.”

SE4ALL’s Gerald Osteheimer advocated for rewarding fuels for reducing their carbon intensity, sustainable supply chains, and de-risking investment for private sector investment in agriculture and renewable energy.

Adam Klauber of Carbon War Room identified support for infrastructure funding (such as blending capacity), subsidy parity fossil fuels, and quantifying sustainable jet fuel benefits that include economic development, air quality, climate stewardship and price volatility reduction.



ACI’s Michael Rossell emphasized, “It is not about the amount of biofuel currently available at airports, but the joint commitment for the future.” He said States should avoid introducing regulations which lead to market distortion and should work with all stakeholders in developing and implementing new initiatives.

Michel Wachenheim of the International Coordinating Council of Aerospace Industries Associations (ICCAIA) supported research to improve fuel efficiency and deployment “from feedstock production to distribution,” and “reflection on the economic model.”

The three most-mentioned issues were:
1. Reduce financial risk
2. Support a quality framework
3. Level the playing field

Other issues high on the list included public-private  partnerships and sustainability in the supply chain.

The aviation industry is the first commercial sector to commit  itself to limiting carbon emissions within 20 years, including a  binding mechanism (CORSIA). To achieve that goal, the industry
must look at a variety of options.  Hydro-treated oils, a process of converting gases into  hydrocarbons, or fermentation processes such as the one being  done by biotech Amyris with French oil firm Total, produce  sustainable biofuels. These fuels are largely made from plants  (vegetable oils such as camellia, jatropha, sugar crops, cereals,  and algae). The use of seaweed is also being researched.

With prices for conventional jet fuel remaining low,  energy companies have little incentive to invest in new  technologies. Nonetheless, 25 airlines will operate more than  5,000 flights using jet fuel mixed with sustainable alternative  fuels on a trial basis this year.  United Airlines is using biofuel blends in place of conventional  jet fuel on flights between Los Angeles and San Francisco, California. They plan to incorporate biofuels in all domestic flights leaving the Los Angeles hub and eventually roll it out to all flights globally. United’s blend is 30 per cent bio, 70 per cent conventional, produced by Alt Air Fuels.

Hamburg airport, Germany is using renewable diesel fuel from  Finnish company Neste for its ground fleet. Neste previously  worked with Lufthansa to test another of its fuels, Neste
Renewable Jet Fuel, on more than 1,000 flights. Boeing has also  successfully tested Neste’s renewable fuel.  To reach a profitable production threshold as an aviation fuel,  stringent production quality and safety standards are required. Storage is necessary at low temperatures (to avoid having  the fuel oxidize). And the “food versus fuel” debate often complicates government incentives support.


Robert Boyd, International Air Transport Association (IATA) and Wendy Aritenang, Indonesia Biofuels and Renewable Energy, Committee on Aviation Environment Protection
(CAEP) Policy Guidance Task Group Co-Leads, said modeling  studies showed that “… under special conditions, up to 100% of commercial aviation jet fuel demand can be satisfied
with alternative fuel.” Currently about two (2) per cent is comprised of alternative fuels. But the history of such fuels is young, and the discussion is robust. Accelerating from zero (or two) to 100 won’t happen in the near-term, but it is a possible scenario – depending on the vision and policies put in place.

The best way to predict the future is to create it.

Live blogging took place during February’s ICAO Seminar on Alternative Fuels. To catch up on the event and watch interviews from some of the speakers, click here.


About the author

Jane Hupe is ICAO Deputy Director for
Environmental Protection

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General Interest

The value of business aviation: flexibility and efficiency

Flexibility sets business aviation apart from other forms of travel, making it the most efficient mode of transportation for some and enabling others to make trips that would not otherwise be feasible.

A closer look at one company’s business aircraft usage underscores the value of business aviation. Honeywell International is a Fortune 100 company headquartered on the U.S. East Coast that employs nearly 130,000 people at 1,300 sites in 70 countries. It has a fleet of seven aircraft, six fixed-wing and one helicopter, split between two bases: one a dedicated general aviation facility outside New York City, the other in Arizona. The company also owns shares in a fractional ownership programme to supplement its fleet.

The company’s helicopter gives its flight department an especially versatile tool for its East Coast operations, explains John Tuten, the company’s chief pilot. In many cases, personnel based at Honeywell’s headquarters can be shuttled to meetings in downtown New York or other nearby cities. In addition, it is not unusual for passengers from outside the region to be flown to the East Coast base aboard a company airplane, then switch to the helicopter for an expedited trip into Manhattan.

“Using our aircraft in this way is very efficient,” Tuten says. “It wouldn’t be unusual for a traveler to start the day at headquarters, get flown into Manhattan for morning meetings, return to headquarters, then depart for Washington, D.C. for more meetings, and then to another city for another meeting, and then end the day on the West Coast.”

Single-day, multi-city trips are common, Tuten says. A business airplane’s speed, efficiency and ability to use a wider variety of airports – from close-in downtown airfields to rural general aviation-only facilities – makes it a versatile mode of transportation.

Passengers using mobile devices on Honeywell Dassault Falcon 7X



Connectivity and other onboard amenities mean that passengers can work as if they are sitting at their desks, participating in conference calls using voice-over-IP connectivity, accessing email, or working away on a laptop.

“The vast majority of the time, our passengers are working,” Tuten says. “With the exception of getting some rest on long flights, our passengers treat the aircraft as a mobile office, which helps boost their productivity. It really does make the aircraft an office away from home.” A prime example of using its business aviation fleet to maximize productivity is when Honeywell’s leaders gather for board or other high-level meetings. In these cases, multiple aircraft will be dispatched to pick up people in different locations around the country. They will all end up at the destination city for the formal gathering. Such meetings can include a dozen or more people who come from thousands of miles away.

“The vast majority of the time, our passengers are working. With the exception of getting some rest on long flights, our passengers treat the aircraft as a mobile office…”

– John Tuten, Chief Pilot, Honeywell

Honeywell maximizes the use of its business aircraft fleet, aiming to have most of the company trips scheduled several months in advance. The fleet totals about 3,800 hours per year in the air – an amount that Tuten said balances the company’s travel needs with its aviation department resources. Fractional ownership shares are used for overflow requests as well as trips with circumstances that would tie up company assets in a less-than-optimal way – “where it makes sense, like a one-way trip where we’re going to save five to six hours of deadheading,” Tuten says.



While the company-owned airplanes are typically booked done to two months in advance, schedules usually aren’t locked in until two weeks to a month before trips take place. And there are times when last-minute trips are necessary. Having in-house assets and crews available makes these kinds of trips more feasible, Tuten says. Last-minute schedule adjustments, such as departing a few hours later due to a longer-than-expected meeting, are also easier to accommodate with company aircraft. “One of the biggest selling points of our operation is flexibility,” Tuten says. “We do get slides in departure times all the time – requests to leave an hour later or two hours earlier.”

While last-minute trips are rare, they are often needed in critical situations. “We don’t really have a lot of pop-up trips, but we do have the flexibility of having standby crews available,” Tuten says. “We’ve scrambled airplanes with as little as three hours’ notice.”



Most business aircraft have advanced avionics and equipment that maximize safety and efficiency. The systems on Honeywell’s aircraft range from advanced navigation systems that use satellite-based systems, such as Automated Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B), and controller-pilot data link communications, which enables air traffic controllers and pilots to communicate without using often-overcrowded voice channels.

Besides enabling the aircraft to use the maximum number of airports, the advanced equipment also enables the company’s aircraft to serve as flying demonstrators for customers. “We do a lot of customer demonstrations and media demonstrations related to Honeywell products and services,” Tuten says.

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