Cooperation and assistance key to enhancing safety in ICAO’s Europe and North Atlantic Region
Addressing the ICAO Regional Safety Management Symposium in Tallinn, Estonia, the Secretary General of the UN specialized agency for civil aviation stressed the need to enhance cooperation and assistance in order to address safety issues affecting States in its Europe and North Atlantic (EURNAT) Region, an area that covers 56 countries stretching from Greenland to Kamchatka.
“The average effective implementation of ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) by EURNAT States is approximately 75%, which is more than 10 points above the current global average,” remarked Secretary General Dr. Fang Liu. “However, your region accounts for 32% of the global accident total while accounting for only 25% of global traffic. These figures reflect a complex portrait of safety capability and performance and point to the need for ever closer collaboration. Compliance with ICAO SARPs is key to ensuring the safety and sustainability of international air connectivity.”
Pointing to ICAO’s Global Aviation Safety Plan (GASP) and the European Regional Aviation Safety Group (RASG-EUR) mechanisms, Dr. Liu underscored that the foundations and targets for safety-focused cooperation are already in place. She stressed the importance of the support from ICAO’s EURNAT Regional Office in terms of implementing these efforts, and highlighted the role of ICAO’s Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP) in safety prioritization.
“A main tenet of effective safety management requires that the identification of global priorities evolves away from reactive analyses based solely on accidents and fatalities, and toward assessments based on risks and potential for fatalities,” Dr. Liu said, noting that safety cooperation is facilitating stakeholders’ shift from a reactive to a proactive approach. “But in order to achieve this effectively, access to safety information by States and services providers should be improved, and the exchange and sharing of relevant data encouraged.”
Stressing that continuous efforts by all ICAO States towards aviation safety had resulted in 2016 achieving the lowest ever accident rate, with 2.1 accidents per million departures, Dr. Liu noted that there was nonetheless no room for complacency even among EURNAT States with “mature safety oversight capabilities.”
“Our safety objective is zero accidents,” she said, noting that the implementation of their State Safety Programmes (SSPs) should be prioritized. “And as we continue to make significant progress in aviation safety, we must also recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to the effective implementation of State Safety Programmes and Safety Management Systems (SMS).”
Dr. Liu reiterated ICAO’s unwavering commitment to supporting and enabling States’ safety efforts, as well as her confidence that further progress can be achieved.
“From the cockpit to the ICAO Council Chamber, safety is always a fundamental priority in our global community,” she stressed.
In addition to her delivery of the Symposium’s opening address, Dr. Liu’s mission to Tallinn resulted in high-level meetings with Estonia’s Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure, Ms. Kadri Simson, and Mr. Henrik Hololei, the European Commission’s Director General for Mobility and Transport. These meetings contributed to the momentum for enhanced cooperation between ICAO and the European Commission and highlighted the opportunities for leveraging aviation to advance socio-economic development throughout the European Union and in Estonia in particular.