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NEWS Last modified on December 4, 2014

ICAO task force meets to discuss conflict zone challenges

The third meeting of the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) Task Force on Risks to Civil Aviation arising from Conflict Zones (TF-RCZ) arrived at its successful conclusion with participants expressing clear satisfaction with the “substantial progress achieved”.

The proposed work programme adopted, designed to keep passengers safe from conflict zone risks wherever they fly and regardless of their airline of choice, will now be packaged for assessment by a wider cross-section of ICAO’s 191 member states during the UN agency’s High-level Safety Conference from February 2-5, 2015.

Task Force participants reaffirmed in the final session that the world civil aviation system can rise to the challenges being presented by conflict zones.

They also expressed particular satisfaction with the work completed by its team of international experts on the types of risks to civil aviation over conflict zones.

These risk assessment categories are intended to provide guidance to both airlines and states in the future and were key outcomes being sought.

The final session also saw ICAO being commended for its intention to accept inputs to the 2015 High Level Safety Conference on a prototype centralised information sharing system.

Centralized information sharing is thought to be critical to improved conflict zone risk mitigation moving forward, and the related recommendations were expected to be largely informed by the promising trials of a European version of the system, which has now undergone some preliminary trials.

TF-RCZ chairman, David McMillan, stresses: “We had a considerable set of challenges put to us when this Task Force was established, and I am very pleased with the excellent results we’ve been able to determine in the very short period of time available.

“Those of us in the room very much understood that flying is still the safest way to travel, but we also recognized the public’s unease where conflict zone risk is concerned.

“We’re also very fortunate to have the right venue to move this work forward next February when ICAO convenes its second High-level Safety Conference, as there is no better forum in which to canvass the aviation safety concerns of world states.

“I am confident of the level of priority that conflict zones will be assigned there and I look forward to how states respond to our results.”

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