Continued enhancements to the record-breaking safety of flight in Europe will be crucial to ensuring the sustainability of aviation growth in the region, declared ICAO Secretary General Dr. Fang Liu in her opening remarks at the 67th Special Meeting of the Directors General of Civil Aviation for the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC).
Taking note of the trend of improvement on the safety records, Dr. Liu highlighted that steadily increasing flight and passenger volumes will generate significant challenges and the air transport growth must be effectively managed by civil aviation stakeholders to meet those challenges.
“Ground handling and runway operations remain two of Europe’s more important accident risk categories,” Dr. Liu highlighted, noting that a range of new implementation and improvement initiatives through the ICAO-led collaborative Runway Safety Programme have been produced to address this global challenge. “In regard to accident and incident investigation, while not a major concern, it is presently the area with the lowest average compliance rating in this region, and is therefore in need of some prioritization. We must also acknowledge the fact that technical staff qualifications and training has been identified as the number one issue impacting European States’ overall safety oversight capacities more generally.”
Addressing these implementation gaps will be key to ensuring the achievement of a truly effective and Global Aviation Safety Plan-compliant Safety Management System (SMS) in the region. This requires the implementation of State Safety Programmes, in alignment with the guidance set forth under the GASP and the deployment of adequate resources.
On this last point, Dr. Liu stressed ICAO’s commitment to ensuring that the full value of contributions to the Organization’s budget is delivered to States in order to support their developmental efforts, and the crucial importance of enhancing these contributions. “Efficiency and effectiveness are key underlying values supporting the design and conduct of the important regional programmes and responses we’re collaborating on today,” she said. “Extra-budgetary resources are also becoming increasingly important to how effectively ICAO serves its Member States, and while we have established a more solid foundation to support these activities, I will continue to advocate for additional regular programme budgetary resources to support our key objectives”.
She also highlighted the pivotal and enhanced role of ICAO’s Regional Offices in terms of supporting the implementation of the international civil aviation network’s imperatives at the global, regional and State level, notably as a result of the improved resourcing of these offices that has been achieved under her leadership.
Dr. Liu’s mission to Portugal took place from 27 August to 1 September 2018. During her visit, she also conducted bilateral meetings with Ms. Ana Paula Zacarias, Secretary of State for European Affairs of the Portuguese Government, with Members of the Board of NAV Portugal, and officials of the Regional Government of the Azores.
The meetings focused on important aviation matters such as airport and airspace capacity, aviation safety and security issues, the environment, the role of international civil aviation as an enabler for sustainable economic development, the implementation of the air services agreements and internal and national procedures, the ICAO budget, and the role of Portugal in the region.
The Portuguese Officials will report the outcomes of the meetings to the Government of Portugal in order to address the most important challenges and proposals at stake.