ICAO leader stresses safety, security, environment to mark aviation day

By Zhang Dacheng, Shi Li
0 CommentsPrint E-mail Xinhua, December 7, 2010
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On the eve of the International Civil Aviation Day which falls on December 7, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Secretary General has called on the aviation industry to unite under the three objectives of this year's theme -- Safety, security, environment.

"Today, every year 2.3 billion passengers are traveling by air and we expect within the next 20 years, this number to double," Raymond Benjamin said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua. "So that's why we are promoting these three strategic objectives in ICAO and everywhere in the world."

A United Nations specialized agency similar to the World Health Organization, ICAO was created on December 7, 1944 to promote the safe and orderly development of international civil aviation throughout the world.

Marking the organization's 50th anniversary in 1994, ICAO established International Civil Aviation Day, which was officially recognized by the United Nations General Assembly in 1996 to remind people about the importance of international civil aviation in modern society.

Talking about aviation accidents at times as authorities in the world have taken very strict measures, Benjamin said, at the ICAO headquarters in Montreal, Canada's second largest city, that though that is the fact, aviation remains the safest mode of transportation.

"If you take the statistics that we have for the year 2009 the latest one that we had there are approximately 1,000 people that have died in aviation accidents," he said. "Every death is a tragedy. But if you compare the 1,000 deaths to the 2.3 billion passengers, you see how much we are a safe industry."

Benjamin stressed that the ICAO will try to keep the same kind of percentages, which needs reducing the number of accidents given the fact that the growth of aviation will be tremendous in the years to come, and especially in countries like China where the domestic market is booming in terms of aviation.

"We have developed at the last assembly a strategy for addressing this," he added.

A civil aviation expert, Benjamin pointed out that the major cause of accident is related to the runway: runway incursions, during the period of landing and taking off of aircraft.

"It is often due to human factors but it is also due to technical issues," he said, adding that better share of information on accidents is most important in preventing them from happening.

"Usually when you have an accident, then people get together to try and draw lessons from the accident in order to try not renewing this kind of accident," he said.

"We have signed an agreement with the American FAA the Federal Aviation Administration with the European Union with IATA in terms of sharing all safety information that we have in order to better enhance our performances in this."

Benjamin made it clear that there is very big space for information sharing as each organization until now is keeping its own data for its own purposes although there is an enormous amount of data available.

On the issue of security, the Secretary General said that ICAO urges its 190 member states to implement the same rules for security.

"Some countries depending on the level of the threat can go beyond and impose additional measures. But you have to have in all countries in the world a minimum level of security, which is to be applied," he said.

Benjamin emphasized key factors of the ICAO strategy on security: strong standards and fully implementation, which is supported by a mandatory audit security system: all states in the world are audited.

"In case there are deficiencies, these countries are obliged to submit an action plan to correct their deficiencies," he said, adding that if some countries don't have the expertise or the resources, ICAO will assist them to do better.

In October, the 37th Session of the ICAO Assembly adopted a comprehensive resolution on the environment to reduce the impact of aviation emissions, providing a roadmap for action through 2050 for the ICAO 190 member states.

The resolution makes ICAO the first United Nations agency to lead a sector in the establishment of a globally harmonized agreement for addressing its CO2 emissions.

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