ICAO: NOTAM could be key to conflict zone avoidance

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Notice to airmen (NOTAM) could act as the alert system for conflict zone avoidance in cooperation with an information sharing system. 

These early ideas are part of the outcome of the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) second two-day meeting of its Task Force on Risks to Civil Aviation arising from Conflict Zones (TF RCZ). Held over two weeks, the two meetings have been establishing a work programme and the two immediate projects, the NOTAM alerts and the information sharing system. The TF RCZ will explore how the NOTAM system between States and aircraft operators could be used to share urgent conflict zone risk information. The information sharing system will be piloted by “key ICAO partners,” according to the organization, for the prompt sharing of conflict zone risk information.

The TF RCZ chairman, David McMillan, says: “We saw some very strong consensus around the two specific projects we’ll now be pursuing and I am very confident that we’ll be submitting a very mature and practical set of proposals to the ICAO Council. These recommendations will help to ensure the safety of civilian passengers and crew, no matter what airline they are flying on or where they are flying.”

The ICAO TF RCZ was convened on an emergency basis in the aftermath of the crash of the 17 July Malaysia Airlines flight MH17. Its main goal is to refine the roles and procedures relating to the mitigation of conflict zone risks in civilian airspace. After the MH17 disaster, ICAO, called for fail safe threat channels and international law for controlling anti-aircraft weaponary; because of the belief that MH17 was shot down by a Russian surface-to-air missile. 

As well as these demands, ICAO, along with the International Air Transport Association, Airports Council International andCivil Air Navigation Services Organisation called for a task force to propose solutions. 

The TF RCZ will be meeting next in December. ICAO will be delivering the group’s preliminary findings to the 203rd session of its council in October. The council consists of 36 ICAO members, appointed for three year terms. The council appoints the ICAO secretary general. and it reports to the assembly, which consists of all the organisation’s members.

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