Safety, security top ICAO’s AFCAC agenda
The Council President of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Dr. Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, took part this week in the 25th triennial Plenary Session of the African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC), in Cairo, Egypt. While there he expressed the UN aviation agency’s praise and appreciation for recent safety, security, environmental and human resources progress seen.
“ICAO has been very encouraged by recent safety improvements in Africa, and most notably perhaps the recent resolution of all Significant Safety Concerns (SSCs) in our Western and Central African (WACAF) region,” he remarked. “We have also been very grateful for State efforts to reduce aviation’s contribution to climate change through the CO2 emission reduction Action Plans we are assisting them with.”
In light of recent terrorist-related incidents on the continent, aviation security concerns were also top of mind in Cairo this week. President Aliu highlighted to the Plenary’s high-level participants, representing 55 African and other world States, the recent implementation of ICAO’s AFI Security and Facilitation (SECFAL) Plan in May of this year, while noting in separate discussions that airport security concerns will be on the agenda at the next ICAO Aviation Security (AVSEC) Panel meeting in March of 2016.
“Our newly-established AFI SECFAL effort supports the establishment and resourcing of suitable authorities and programmes to ensure effective aviation security and passenger facilitation standardization in all African States,” he elaborated. “As this work proceeds, we are hopeful it will foster deeper collaboration and improve related capacities across the continent.”
Many of the challenges Africa faces today are tied to shortfalls in funding and coordination, especially regarding the technical, managerial and financial resources required to ensure effective implementation of ICAO Standards and policies by African States. Besides ICAO’s work to address these gaps under its ongoing No Country Left Behind initiative, President Aliu highlighted ICAO’s further commitments to provide African States with the assistance and capacity building they require, whether through the ICAO Comprehensive Regional Implementation Plan for Aviation Safety in Africa (AFI Plan), or the ICAO/AFCAC Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) programme.
“Whether we are talking airport development, the modernization of air navigation technologies and infrastructure, or greater liberalization in African skies, no targets will be met unless African aviation training capacity is sufficiently expanded,” he commented.
“ICAO has established Global Plans for aviation Safety and Air Navigation for the next fifteen years, with clear targets and timelines for States to adhere to, but we must also ensure sufficient numbers of skilled personnel are in place to ensure that any progress made is sustainable and effective over the longer term.”