Icao Standards

Written by Shirley Parker
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The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), with headquarters in Montreal, Canada was founded in 1944. It issues Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) for the civil aviation that holds our lives and our world together. Economically and socially, our world thrives on communication and the ability of people to travel, stay in touch with loved ones, and learn about other cultures. When we travel, we discover that people everywhere share similar emotions and responsibilities, if not the same values.

The kind of travel and commerce that such understanding is based on relies heavily on intricate networks of planes, pilots, flight attendants, and millions of people we rarely see: ground crews, air traffic controllers, assembly line workers, safety experts, food workers, housekeeping teams, inspectors, instructors and investigators. Many more could be added to the list. Modern society is tightly interwoven, because we need every kind of worker to keep us functioning.

As terribly tragic as the occasional plane crash is, without ICAO standards to keep this hugely complex wheel of take-offs and landings spinning smoothly, air traffic would be chaotic and extremely dangerous. Every few seconds a civil aircraft is arriving or departing somewhere in the world. They deliver people and cargo, and handle mercy medical flights.

Inner Workings of ICAO

The Assembly of ICAO is the ruling body. Comprised of representatives from each of the more than 180 contracting states, it meets every three years. The Council, comprised of 36 members, conducts business at headquarters. This includes adopting standards and recommended practices assisted by input from a commission and two committees. Members of the Air Navigation Commission, for example, are independenttechnical experts, who are not expected to represent their countries.

A Standard is defined as necessary for safety or regularity of international air navigation. A Recommended Procedure is desirable for safety, regularity and efficiency. These are based on cooperation, consensus, compliance and commitment -- together, these are known as the four "C's" of aviation. Preliminary correspondence, followed by meetings, gets critical new issues defined and adopted.


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