In his keynote speech at the CANSO Executive Summit, Salvatore Sciacchitano, President of the Council, ICAO, explained how lessons learned are informing the future of air traffic management.
The pandemic highlighted the need for collaboration, for example. ICAO had to work extensively with the World Health Organization (WHO) on air travel guidance and this led to the innovative Council Aviation Recovery Task Force (CART). CART included representatives from across the industry and proved the value of cooperation, ultimately leading to a safe and speedy recovery.
ICAO’s efforts to continue supporting innovative solutions during the pandemic, especially in sustainability, also led to a historic 41st Assembly. A Long-Term Aspirational Goal was agreed that targets net zero carbon emissions by 2050, aligning with the industry vision.
ICAO anticipates sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) will account for about 55% of carbon savings, new technologies about 21% and operations about 11%, with the remainder coming from market-based measures.
Sciacchitano said ICAO is committed to promoting SAF and increasing production. It will also look to support other new technologies, such as electric batteries and hydrogen.
There are many other challenges lying in wait, continued Sciacchitano, including cybersecurity, civil-military cooperation and the integration of drones into civil airspace. “Our duty is to anticipate those challenges,” he said.
Reliable and accurate data will be vital and ICAO is establishing standards that will measure the performance of the aviation sector across various metrics and help to identify future priorities.
Sciacchitano predicted that in the future, pilots would be safety monitors rather than safety managers and they will fly in a highly digitised environment. “The aim is to transform this vision into implementable plans,” he noted.
He accepted that it was challenging to get timely consensus from 193 States, especially when the pace of change is accelerating. But events like Airspace World help to change the paradigm by making introductions, fostering collaboration and defining the pathway forward, he concluded.