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8.2.1: ICAO

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    8.2.1 ICAO5

    The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is an agency of the United Nations, created in 1944 to promote the safe and orderly development of international civil aviation. It sets standards and regulations necessary for aviation safety, security, efficiency, and regularity, as well as for aviation environmental protection.

    Why are Standards Necessary?

    Air transportation (and in turn the whole aviation industry) is made possible by the existence of universally accepted standards known as Standards and Recommended Practices, or SARPs. SARPs cover all technical and operational aspects of international civil aviation, such as safety, personnel licensing, operation of aircraft, aerodromes, air traffic services, accident investigation, and the environment. Without SARPs, our aviation system would be at best chaotic and at worst unsafe.

    How it works

    The constitution of ICAO is the Convention on International Civil Aviation, drawn up by a conference in Chicago in December 1944, and to which each ICAO Contracting State is a party. The Organization is made up of an Assembly, a Council of limited membership with various subordinate bodies and a Secretariat. The Assembly, composed of representatives from all Contracting States, is the sovereign body of ICAO. It meets every three years, reviewing in detail the work of the Organization and setting policy for the coming years.

    Foundation of ICAO

    The consequence of the studies initiated by the US and subsequent consultations between the Major Allies was that the US government extended an invitation to 55 states or authorities to attend, in November 1944, an International Civil Aviation Conference in Chicago. Fifty four states attended this conference end of which a Convention on International Civil Aviation was signed by 52 States set up the permanent International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) as a mean to secure international cooperation an highest possible degree of uniformity in regulations and standards, procedures, and organization regarding civil aviation matters.

    The most important work accomplished by the Chicago Conference was in the technical field because the Conference laid the foundation for a set of rules and regulations regarding air navigation as a whole which brought safety in flying a great step forward and paved the way for the application of a common air navigation system throughout the world.

    From the very assumption of activities of ICAO, it was realized that the work of the Secretariat, especially in the technical field, would have to cover the following major activities: those which covered generally applicable rules and regulations concerning training and licensing of aeronautical personnel both in the air and on the ground, communication systems and procedures, rules for the air and air traffic control systems and practices, airworthiness requirements for aircraft engaged in international air navigation as well as their registration and identification, aeronautical meteorology, and maps and charts. For obvious reasons, these aspects required uniformity on a world-wide scale if truly international air navigation was to become a possibility.

    Chicagos’s convention

    In response to the invitation of the United States Government, representatives of 54 nations met at Chicago from November 1 to December 7, 1944, to make arrangements for the immediate establishment of provisional world air routes and services and to set up an interim council to collect, record and study data concerning international aviation and to make recommendations for its improvement. The Conference was also invited to discuss the principles and methods to be followed in the adoption of a new aviation convention.

    Convention on International Civil Aviation (also known as Chicago Convention), was signed on 7 December 1944 by 52 States. Pending ratification of the Convention by 26 States, the Provisional International Civil Aviation Organization (PICAO) was established. It functioned from 6 June 1945 until 4 April 1947. By 5 March 1947 the 26th ratification was received. ICAO came into being on 4 April 1947. In October of the same year, ICAO became a specialized agency of the United Nations linked to Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The Convention on International Civil Aviation set forth the purpose of ICAO:

    WHEREAS the future development of international civil aviation can greatly help to create and preserve friendship and understanding among the nations and peoples of the world, yet its abuse can become a threat to the general security; and

    WHEREAS it is desirable to avoid friction and to promote that co- operation between nations and peoples upon which the peace of the world depends;

    THEREFORE, the undersigned governments having agreed on certain principles and arrangements in order that international civil aviation may be developed in a safe and orderly manner and that international air transport services may be established on the basis of equality of opportunity and operated soundly and economically;

    Have accordingly concluded this Convention to that end.

    The Convention has since been revised eight times (in 1959, 1963, 1969, 1975, 1980, 1997, 2000 and 2006). It is constituted by a preamble and 4 parts:

    • Air navigation.
    • Organization of the international civil aviation.
    • International air transport.
    • Final dispositions.

    Some important articles are:

    • Article 1: Every state has complete and exclusive sovereignty over airspace above its territory.
    • Article 5: (Non-scheduled flights over state’s territory): The aircraft of states, other than scheduled international air services, have the right to make flights across state’s territories and to make stops without obtaining prior permission. However, the state may require the aircraft to make a landing.
    • Article 6: (Scheduled air services) No scheduled international air service may be operated over or into the territory of a contracting State, except with the special permission or other authorization of that State.
    • Article 10: (Landing at customs airports): The state can require that landing to be at a designated customs airport and similarly departure from the territory can be required to be from a designated customs airport.
    • Article 13: (Entry and clearance regulations) A state’s laws and regulations regarding the admission and departure of passengers, crew or cargo from aircraft shall be complied with on arrival, upon departure and whilst within the territory of that state.
    • Article 24: Aircraft flying to, from or across, the territory of a state shall be admitted temporarily free of duty. Fuel, oil, spare parts, regular equipment and aircraft stores retained on board are also exempt custom duty, inspection fees or similar charges.
    • Article 29: Before an international flight, the pilot in command must ensure that the aircraft is airworthy, duly registered and that the relevant certificates are on board the aircraft. The required documents are: certificate of registration; certificate of airworthiness; passenger names; place of boarding and destination; crew licenses ; journey logbook; radio license; cargo manifest.
    • Article 30: The aircraft of a state flying in or over the territory of another state shall only carry radios licensed and used in accordance with the regulations of the state in which the aircraft is registered. The radios may only be used by members of the flight crew suitably licensed by the state in which the aircraft is registered.
    • Article 32: the pilot and crew of every aircraft engaged in international aviation must have certificates of competency and licenses issued or validated by the state in which the aircraft is registered.
    • Article 33: (Recognition of certificates and licenses) Certificates of Airworthiness, certificates of competency and licenses issued or validated by the state in which the aircraft is registered, shall be recognized as valid by other states. The requirements for issue of those Certificates or Airworthiness, certificates of competency or licenses must be equal to or above the minimum standards established by the Convention.
    • Article 40: No aircraft or personnel with endorsed licenses or certificate will engage in international navigation except with the permission of the state or states whose territory is entered. Any license holder who does not satisfy international standard relating to that license or certificate shall have attached to or endorsed on that license information regarding the particulars in which he does not satisfy those standards.

    The Convention is supported by eighteen annexes containing standards and recommended practices (SARPs). The annexes are amended regularly by ICAO and are as follows:

    • Annex 1: Personnel Licensing
    • Annex 2: Rules of the Air
    • Annex 3: Meteorological Service for International Air Navigation

      – Vol I: Core SARPs
      – Vol II: Appendices and Attachments

    • Annex 4: Aeronautical Charts

    • Annex 5: Units of Measurement to be used in Air and Ground Operations

    • Annex 6: Operation of Aircraft

      – Part I: International Commercial Air Transport: Aeroplanes – Part II: International General Aviation: Aeroplanes
      – Part III: International Operations: Helicopters

    • Annex 7: Aircraft Nationality and Registration Marks

    • Annex 8: Airworthiness of Aircraft

    • Annex 9: Facilitation

    • Annex 10: Aeronautical Telecommunications

      – Vol I: Radio Navigation Aids
      – Vol II: Communication Procedures including those with PANS status – Vol III: Communication Systems

      ∗ Part I: Digital Data Communication Systems
      ∗ Part II: Voice Communication Systems

      – Vol IV: Surveillance Radar and Collision Avoidance Systems – Vol V: Aeronautical Radio Frequency Spectrum Utilization

    • Annex 11: Air Traffic Services: Air Traffic Control Service, Flight Information Service and Alerting Service

    • Annex 12: Search and Rescue

    • Annex 13: Aircraft Accident and Incident Investigation

    • Annex 14: Aerodromes

      – Vol I: Aerodrome Design and Operations – Vol II: Heliports

    • Annex 15: Aeronautical Information Services

    • Annex 16: Environmental Protection

      – Vol I: Aircraft Noise
      – Vol II: Aircraft Engine Emissions

    • Annex 17: Security: Safeguarding International Civil Aviation Against Acts of

      Unlawful Interference

    • Annex 18: The Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air

    • Annex 19: Safety Management

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    Figure 8.4: Freedoms of the Air.

    Freedoms of the air

    Table 8.2 presents the freedoms of the air.6 Chicago Convention signing states recognize each other the 1st and the 2nd. ICAO officially recognizes the first five "freedoms" as such. Then, the 6th to the 9th (also referred to as full cabotage) are included in some ASAs. For instance full cabotage applies for European Countries within European airspace.

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    5. The information included in this section has been retrieved from ICAO’swebsite @

    6. According to the Manual on the Regulation of International Air Transport (Doc 9626, Part 4)

    8.2.1: ICAO is shared under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Manuel Soler Arnedo via source content that was edited to conform to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.

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