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Celebrating International Civil Aviation Day


The ICAO is a United Nations (UN) agency that was set up in 1947 following the Convention on International Civil Aviation (or Chicago Convention) in 1944, which was signed at the time by 52 member states. Its purpose was to work towards “safe and efficient international air transport for peaceful purposes and to make sure that every member state had a reasonable opportunity to operate international airlines”. On 7 December, International Civil Aviation Day highlights aviation’s positive impact on the social and economic development of International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) member nations.

United aviation for safety and efficiency

Maintenance of a passenger aircraft in an aviation hangar, rear-view of the tail, on the auxiliary power unit.
Maintenance of a passenger aircraft in an aviation hangar, rear-view of the tail, on the auxiliary power unit.

Today, the ICAO works with 192 member states and other industry groups to find common ground on international civil aviation Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) and policies, with the aim of supporting a civil aviation sector that’s safe, efficient, secure, economically sustainable and environmentally responsible.

Imagine a world where each local civil aviation authority made up its own rules and regulations as it went along. Air transportation would work well enough within the home territory, but with so many flights operating in international or foreign airspace, there would be nothing but chaos. Pilots, air control towers and aviation support staff would use different codes and terminology, waive or impose their own standards on foreign aircraft and crew, and require different procedures during enplaning and deplaning.

The SARPs and policies agreed by ICAO member states keep around 100,000 daily flights operating safely and reliably, by sticking to a common global language of aviation norms and standards. Developing global plans to coordinate strategic progress in safety and air navigation for 192 nations, while also monitoring air transport sector performance metrics, is no easy task. As if that weren’t enough, the organization also audits member states’ safety and security civil aviation oversight capabilities.

Lifesaving ICAO aviation codes

Young woman in international airport, holding passport in her hand and checking her flight on the information board.
Young woman in international airport, holding passport in her hand and checking her flight on the information board.

One of the ways the ICAO helps to keep us safe during air travel is though the global use of ICAO codes. These are four-letter airport codes or location indicators given to aerodromes around the world. They’re used by air traffic controllers and airline operations to control air traffic and make airport identification and telecommunications simple and clear. ICAO codes also identify other aviation facilities such as weather stations, international flight service stations and area control centers, even when they’re not located at airports. Flight information regions are also identified by a unique ICAO code.

ICAO codes are different from the IATA codes used for airliner timetables, reservations and baggage tags. For example, the IATA code for London's Heathrow Airport is LHR, but its ICAO code is EGLL. You’re most likely to see an ICAO code on a flight-tracking service like FlightAware.

Developing aviation across signatory nations

The ICAO’s work doesn’t stop there; it also coordinates efforts between member states to develop and expand aviation capacity across the world – in fact, the theme for International Civil Aviation Day is “Working Together to Ensure No Country is Left Behind”, encouraging members states to work together to transform the aviation industry into a truly global transport network.

On 7 December – #FlyDay – the ICAO encourages adults and children to think, talk and write about how aviation makes a difference to their lives and communities. To help things along, free posters and other graphic tools can be downloaded from the ICAO website by civil aviation authorities, schools and other groups wanting to celebrate the benefits of more than a century of aviation.

Second High-Level Conference on Aviation Security

Plane flying in the sun over a modern office tower in the city centre.
Plane flying in the sun over a modern office tower in the city centre.

In the run-up to International Civil Aviation Day, the ICAO is hosting a conference on November 27 and 28 in Montréal, Canada. The summit brings together senior government officials, representatives of international and regional organizations, and aviation stakeholders from around the world. This impressive gathering will grapple with the priorities of global aviation security and discuss topics around risk awareness, security culture, technology, innovation, co-operation and capacity building to name just a handful.

Before the conference starts, a number of pre-symposium activities will be held on November 26, including workshops around existing and future challenges involving aviation security technology and innovation. Some of the topics on the agenda are conflict zones, security culture and the United Nations Office of Drug Control Container Control Programme (Air UNODC CCP-Air).

Global peace and prosperity through international flight

Today, the world is connected more than ever by flight. This means that global aviation has a growing responsibly, as outlined in the Chicago Convention, to work towards making international flight a fundamental enabler of global harmony and prosperity. The UN has adopted a plan known as Agenda 2030, which includes 17 sustainable development goals, and the ICAO’s strategic objectives are closely linked to 15 of these initiatives. ACS works hard to stay on top of industry developments. Whether you book a charter for yourself, other passengers or important cargo, we promise a level of personal service that goes beyond your highest expectations. Speak to us about how we can take the hassle out of air travel and put convenience and comfort back in with our exceptional private jet charter services.

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