Global Ministerial Aviation Summit
The Global Ministerial Aviation Summit, held in Riyadh from the 29 to 31 August attracted 446 participants from 54 states and 13 international and regional organizations. During the summit which focused on safety and security in air travel, a number of enhancement initiatives were presented and a declaration on security was signed, aimed at ensuring the sustainability of the aviation sector.
The highlight of the summit was the signing of the Riyadh Declaration on security and the endorsement of several recommendations by participating Ministers and delegate heads to enhance regional cooperation. The establishment of a Regional Safety Oversight Organization, a Regional Flight Procedure Program and Air Route Network Optimization Plan we agreed upon. It was also decided that the region would launch a ‘No Country Left Behind Initiative’ and an Agency for Flight Check and Regional Training Cooperation.
Beside these initiatives, the President of the ICAO council announced the organization’s approval for the launch of a Comprehensive Implementation Plan for the Middle East similar to the ACIP program the started in Africa few years ago.
During the conference, IATA MENA represented by Ken Sewell, IATA Regional Director, Safety & Flight Operations, Middle East and North Africa and Jehad Faqir, IATA’s Assistant Director, Safety and Flight Operations, Safety, Middle East & North Africa presented two of IATA’s audit programs IOSA and ISAGO in a session dedicated to Regional Projects in Aviation safety.
Towards a Unified African Sky
The concept of having a single unified airspace is not one that is new. Indeed, this concept has, or is, in the process of being successfully implemented in numerous parts of the globe; the most famous of these being the European Single Sky where the national airspace of multiple states is designed, managed and regulated through a central body where the decisions are made collaboratively to enhance the overall safety, efficiency and equity of the total aviation system without impacting on the sovereignty of states. This too is an objective for the African region, where high levels of disparity exist in the deployment of Communication, Navigation and Surveillance equipment and the provision of Air Traffic Management having an undesirable effect on safety, efficiency and equitable service delivery to a growing aviation community.
There are currently various initiatives in the African region looking at creating regional upper-airspace control centers with the aim of standardizing Air Navigation regulations, standards, infrastructure and service provision across multiple flight information regions (FIRs). A long standing example of a single organization managing about 16.1 million square kilometers of the region’s airspace is the L'Agence pour la sécurité de la navigation aérienne en Afrique et à Madagascar (ASECNA), which covers 17 African states, and 6 FIR’S, bringing consistency to Air Traffic Management in its area of responsibility.
Work is also well underway towards the establishment of the Southern African Development Community Upper-Airspace Control Centre (SADC UACC) where the SADC members will cooperate in the management of the regions upper airspace (above flight level 245) that will be controlled from a single control center; while the East African Community (EAC) is in the process of establishing a Unified FIR (UFIR) covering Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda.
The Indian Ocean Strategic Partnership to Reduce Emissions (INSPIRE) is a collaborative group of participants across organizations, states and stakeholders, dedicated to improving the efficiency and sustainability of aviation in the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea regions. It is a shining example of how co-operation and collaboration can bring about tangible wins in operational efficiency for all phases of flight from gate to gate and everything in-between. The establishment of the User Preferred Routing (UPR) zone over the Indian Ocean covering multiple FIR is another example of the collaboration of partners bringing about standardized Air Traffic Management over the region.
In addition to this, the regional implementation of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Aviation System Block Upgrade (ASBU) will bring all states in line not only with regional requirements, but indeed global requirements, for performance based communication, navigation, surveillance and service provision in the African Region.
IATA is vigorously pursuing a unified African Sky through active participation in numerous fora such as the ASECNA Technical Panel, The COMESA USUA Task Force as well as the SADC Civil Aviation Committee meetings. IATA is also collaborating with other stakeholders such as CANSO, ICAO and IFATCA towards this goal
Africa has the Unified African Sky in its cross hairs.