Pointing to the exemplary success of ICAO’s High Level Conference on COVID-19 (HLCC), ICAO Council President Salvatore Sciacchitano encouraged European aviation leaders to continue pursuing innovation and cooperation as a means to address the interlinked challenges of climate change and pandemic recovery.

He presented his appeal in Brussels, at the ECAC-Eurocontrol Event on Artificial Intelligence on 24 November, and the following day at the 56th Session of the Eurocontrol Provisional Council.

“We have seen excellent levels of cooperation from all stakeholders, which is greatly encouraging,” Mr. Sciacchitano remarked. “The post-pandemic scenario requires all of us to think differently from the past. It also reinforces our longstanding appreciation in global aviation that solidarity and regional cooperation are essential to our common success.”

The HLCC Ministerial Declaration paves the way for aviation recovery and resilience. While it is not a legally binding document, it demonstrates the solidarity and determination, and conveys a strong political “message” to international communities and world economies.

One salient aspect of the consensus around the recovery of the global aviation sector is the focus on innovation. In order to support this, ICAO is aligning the organization’s efforts and reforms with the needs of States and industry in mind, re-assessing how it interfaces with innovation and innovators.

It is a response to the fact that the aviation sector is at the dawn of a new era of innovation in aircraft design and operation, touching on aviation safety, security, efficiency and sustainability in very profound and inter-related ways, and demanding a holistic approach to integration.

The Council President pointed to the example of autonomous aircraft, which are envisioned performing rapid and spontaneous trajectories in a congested environment, and requiring the adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI) as the fundamental backbone for key future airspace management capabilities.

Mr. Sciacchitano highlighted the success of Europe’s model elaboration and adoption of regional cooperation mechanisms, which have enabled it to address major challenges and opportunities in air transportation at both the technical and political level, in all areas of aviation safety, security, and sustainability, and in response to emerging crises.

Looking beyond the achievement of aviation’s complex path to recovery, the President noted the importance of prioritizing the evolution of approaches to aviation safety, to deliver “structural and system-wide capability to manage risk in an intensely collaborative and resource-shared environment.”

Environmental sustainability was a further major theme of the President’s advocacy in Brussels, notably within the context of ICAO’s preparatory work on a Long Term Aspirational Goal. This work will culminate in a High-Level Meeting to be convened from 20-22 July 2022, with the outcomes to be first considered by the ICAO Council and then subsequently submitted to the 41st ICAO Assembly.

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