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ICAO Looks to Innovation in Aviation

ICAO Council President Salvatore Sciacchitano told the ICAO Global Symposium on the Implementation of Innovation in Aviation, “With each new decade comes new opportunities for innovation, and I anticipate the next 10 years will be one of the most exciting and challenging our sector has ever faced.”

Sciacchitano and ICAO Secretary General Dr. Fang Liu touted the sector’s high reliance on innovation to address pandemic recovery and future sustainability.

“Innovators can often be surprised by the scale of the global regulatory framework which allows for international aviation, and by the detailed responsibilities they face in having their products and services assessed and integrated into our system,” Sciacchitano said.

Liu underscored the extent to which innovation will impact security and health screening measures for governments and air travelers to enable a full air transport recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, and to facilitate the sector’s ability to withstand future pandemic events.

“Because we are recognizing that our overall network will face expectations of being more resilient to future pandemic threats, and being more sustainable in terms of its emissions once COVID-19 is behind us, innovation will be crucial to how we build aviation back better in the months and years ahead,” she said.

The COVID-19 crisis environment has accelerated developments surrounding contactless passenger screening and the digitalization of the supply chain, and has led to airlines putting older, more emissions intensive jets out of service in favor of newer models with significantly decreased emissions.

Turning to the very dynamic environment of innovation that is driving the development of drones and other new types of aircraft and operations today, Liu emphasized that ICAO remains at the forefront of addressing the pressing and foundational global need for Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) standards, in addition to aligned solutions for unmanned traffic management in urban areas, and the safe integration of sub-orbital and stratospheric operations.

“We also recognize that AI and machine learning will be making important contributions with respect to how we collect and manage the incredible amount of data our network generates,” she said.  “These technologies, in addition to new blockchain capabilities, will bring fundamental changes to how we monitor, assess, or simply administer the performance of our network.”