International Civil Aviation Organization

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Group.png International Civil Aviation Organisation   WebsiteRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Flag of ICAO.svg
HeadquartersMontreal, Canada
LeaderICAO/Secretary General
TypeAgency of the United Nations
Codifies the principles and techniques of international air navigation

The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) is a specialised agency of the United Nations. It codifies the principles and techniques of international air navigation and fosters the planning and development of international air transport to ensure safe and orderly growth.[1] Its headquarters are located in the Quartier International of Montreal in Canada.

The ICAO Council adopts standards and recommended practices concerning air navigation, its infrastructure, flight inspection, prevention of unlawful interference, and facilitation of border-crossing procedures for international civil aviation. ICAO defines the protocols for air accident investigation followed by transport safety authorities in countries signatory to the Convention on International Civil Aviation (Chicago Convention).

The Air Navigation Commission (ANC) is the technical body within ICAO. The Commission is composed of 19 Commissioners, nominated by the ICAO's contracting states, and appointed by the ICAO Council.[2] Commissioners serve as independent experts, who although nominated by their states, do not serve as state or political representatives. The development of Aviation Standards and Recommended Practices is done under the direction of the ANC through the formal process of ICAO Panels. Once approved by the Commission, standards are sent to the Council, the political body of ICAO, for consultation and coordination with the Member States before final adoption.

ICAO is distinct from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), a trade association representing 240 of the world’s airlines, also headquartered in Montreal, and from the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO), an organisation for Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) with headquarters at Amsterdam's airport Schiphol in the Netherlands. These are trade associations representing specific aviation interests, whereas ICAO is a body of the United Nations.

Regions and regional offices

ICAO has a headquarters, seven regional offices, and one regional sub-office[3]

  • Headquarters – Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  • Asia and Pacific (APAC) – Bangkok, Thailand; Sub-office – Beijing, China
  • Eastern and Southern African (ESAF) – Nairobi, Kenya
  • Europe and North Atlantic (EUR/NAT) – Paris]], France
  • Middle East (MID) – Cairo, Egypt
  • North American, Central American and Caribbean (NACC) – Mexico City, Mexico
  • South American (SAM) – Lima, Peru
  • Western and Central African (WACAF) – Dakar, Sénégal


List of Secretaries General

Secretar From Term
Dr. Fang Liu China 2015–
Raymond Benjamin France 2009–2015 [4]
Dr. Taïeb Chérif Algeria 2003–2009
Renato Claudio Costa Pereira Brazil 1997–2003
Philippe Rochat Switzerland 1991–1997
Shivinder Singh Sidhu India 1988–1991
Yves Lambert France 1976–1988
Dr Assad Kotaite Lebanon 1970–1976
Bernardus Tielman Twigt Netherlands 1964–1970
Ronald MacAllister Macdonnell Canada 1959–1964
Carl Ljungberg Sweden 1952–1959
Albert Roper France 1944–1951

List of Council Presidents

President From Term
Dr Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu Nigeria 2013–present
Roberto Kobeh Gonzalez Mexico 2006-2013
Dr Assad Kotaite Lebanon 1976-2006
Walter Binaghi Argentina 1957-1976
Edward Pearson Warner United States 1947-1957

ICAO and climate change

Emissions from international aviation are specifically excluded from the targets agreed under the Kyoto Protocol. Instead, the Protocol invites developed countries to pursue the limitation or reduction of emissions through the International Civil Aviation Organisation. ICAO's environmental committee continues to consider the potential for using market-based measures such as trading and charging, but this work is unlikely to lead to global action. It is currently developing guidance for states who wish to include aviation in an emissions trading scheme (ETS) to meet their Kyoto commitments, and for airlines who wish to participate voluntarily in a trading scheme.

Emissions from domestic aviation are included within the Kyoto targets agreed by countries. This has led to some national policies such as fuel and emission taxes for domestic air travel in the Netherlands and Norway, respectively. Although some countries tax the fuel used by domestic aviation, there is no duty on kerosene used on international flights.[5]

ICAO is currently opposed to the inclusion of aviation in the European Union Emission Trading Scheme (EU ETS). The EU, however, is pressing ahead with its plans to include aviation.

Investigations of air disasters

Most air accident investigations are carried out by an agency of a country that is associated in some way with the accident. For example, the Air Accidents Investigation Branch conducts accident investigations on behalf of the British Government. ICAO has conducted three investigations involving air disasters, of which two were passenger airliners shot down while in international flight over hostile territory.

  1. Libyan Arab Airlines Flight 114 which was shot down on 21 February 1973, killing 108 people, by Israeli F-4 jets over the Sinai Peninsula during a period of tension that led to the Arab-Israeli Yom Kippur War.
  2. Korean Air Lines Flight 007, which was shot down on 1 September 1983 by a Soviet Su-15 interceptor near Moneron Island, West of Sakhalin Island during a period of heightened Cold War tension killing all 269 people on board including US Congressman Larry McDonald.[6]
  3. UTA Flight 772, which was destroyed by a bomb on 19 September 1989 above the Sahara Desert in Niger, en route from N'Djamena, Chad, to Paris, France. The explosion caused the aircraft to break up, killing all 156 passengers and 15 crew members, including the wife of US Ambassador Robert L. Pugh. French investigators led by Juge Jean-Louis Bruguière determined that a bomb placed in the cargo hold by Chadian rebels backed by Libya was responsible for the explosion. In 1999, a French court convicted in absentia Abdullah al-Senussi and five other Libyans of planning and implementing the attack.[7]

In November 2015, there were calls for the ICAO to investigate the targeting of the Russian Airbus Metrojet Flight 9268 over North Sinai on 31 October 2015 with the loss of all 224 passengers and crew.[8]