ICAO launches COVID-19 contingency coordination tool and new measures to ensure safe operations

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In a new State letter issued on April 3, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) dragged attention of national governments to new measures aimed at ensuring safe operations during COVID-19, and to a contingency coordination website it will establish through March 31, 2021 to guide States in coordinating their approaches on validity issues.

The State letter issued by ICAO Secretary General Dr Fang Liu comes at a time when more and more aviation service providers and personnel globally are enduring challenges in terms of maintaining the validity of their certifications, licenses, and other types of official operating approvals.

Many of the related challenges are resulting directly from the social distancing guidelines, current business closures, and other public health measures being taken to mitigate the spread and societal impact of COVID-19.

“There are approximately 6,50,000 licensed personnel supporting commercial air transport worldwide. If a fraction of those personnel is affected by the pandemic measures, the potential for the disruption may be significant,” Dr Liu noted.

To facilitate safe operations during these difficult times, she encouraged states ‘to be flexible in their approaches while at the same time adhering to their obligations under the Convention on International Civil Aviation.’

ICAO noted that a number of states are taking various actions to enable service providers and personnel to maintain the validity of their certificates, licenses, and other approvals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

All ICAO Member States were urged in the letter to indicate whether they would be recognising or accepting the validity of certificates and licenses now being affected by the public health measures being implemented in other States.

Liu also urged States to record and inform ICAO of any contraventions or ‘differences’ currently arising against provisions on certificates and licenses of the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation during the current contingency period.

ICAO is also establishing the contingency coordination website to provide guidance for States on flexible while also adhering the Convention.

“All States are encouraged to make use of this website and inform ICAO of any developments in their State using the information highlighted on the site,” said ICAO.

The website has sections ranging from contingency related differences and operational safety measures by areas to airworthiness, cargo safety and licensing.

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