The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a specialized agency of the United Nations, codifies the principles and techniques of international air navigation and fosters the planning and development of international air transport to ensure safe and orderly growth. Its headquarters are located in the Quartier International of Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
The ICAO Council adopts standards and recommended practices concerning air navigation, its infrastructure, Flight inspection, prevention of unlawful interference, and facilitation of border-crossing procedures for international civil aviation. In addition, the ICAO defines the protocols for air accident investigation followed by transport safety authorities in countries signatory to the Convention on International Civil Aviation, commonly known as the Chicago Convention.
The ICAO should not be confused with the International Air Transport Association (IATA), a trade organization for airlines also headquartered in Montreal, or with the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO), an organization for Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSP's) with its headquarters at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol in the Netherlands.
The 9th edition of the Convention on International Civil Aviation includes modifications from 1948 up to year 2006. The ICAO refers to its current edition of the Convention as the statute, and designates it as ICAO Doc 7300/9. The Convention has 18 Annexes. These Annexes are listed by title in the article Convention on International Civil Aviation.
International Civil Aviation Organization member states
ICAO members are 189 of the United Nations members and the Cook Islands.
The non-member states are Dominica, Liechtenstein, Niue, Tuvalu, Vatican City and the states with limited recognition.
Top: ICAO acronym in English, French/Spanish and Russian.
Bottom: ICAO acronym in Chinese and Arabic
The ICAO also standardizes certain functions for use in the airline industry, such as the Aeronautical Message Handling System AMHS; this probably makes it a standards organization.
The ICAO defines an International Standard Atmosphere (also known as ICAO Standard Atmosphere), a model of the standard variation of pressure, temperature, density, and viscosity with altitude in the Earth's atmosphere. This is useful in calibrating instruments and designing aircraft.
The ICAO standardizes machine-readable passports worldwide. Such passports have an area where some of the information otherwise written in textual form is written as strings of alphanumeric characters, printed in a manner suitable for optical character recognition. This enables border controllers and other law enforcement agents to process such passports quickly, without having to input the information manually into a computer. ICAO publishes Doc 9303, Machine Readable Travel Documents, the technical standard for machine-readable passports. A more recent standard is for biometric passports. These contain biometrics to authenticate the identity of travellers. The passport's critical information is stored on a tiny RFID computer chip, much like information stored on smartcards. Like some smartcards, the passport book design calls for an embedded contactless chip that is able to hold digital signature data to ensure the integrity of the passport and the biometric data.
Codes registered with ICAO
Both ICAO and IATA have their own airport and airline code systems. ICAO uses 4-letter airport codes and 3-letter airline codes. In the continental United States, the ICAO codes are usually the same as the IATA code, with a prefix of "K" — LAX is KLAX. Canada follows a similar pattern, where a prefix of "C" is usually added to an IATA code to find the ICAO code — YEG is CYEG. In the rest of the world, the codes are unrelated, as the IATA code is phonic and the ICAO code is location-based; for example, Charles de Gaulle Airport has an ICAO code of LFPG, and an IATA code of CDG.
ICAO is also responsible for issuing alphanumeric aircraft type codes that contain 2–4 characters. These codes provide the identification that is typically used in flight plans. An example of this is the Boeing 747 that would use (depending on the variant) B741, B742, B743, etc.
ICAO provides telephony designators to aircraft operators worldwide. These consist of the three-letter airline identifier and a one- or two-word designator. They are usually, but not always, similar to the aircraft operator name. For example, the identifier for Aer Lingus is EIN and the designator is Shamrock, while Japan Airlines International is JAL and Japan Air . Thus, a flight by Aer Lingus numbered 111 would be written as "EIN111" and pronounced "Shamrock One Eleven" on the radio, while a similarly numbered Japan Airlines flight would be written as "JAL111" and pronounced "Japan Air One Eleven".
ICAO maintains the standards for aircraft registration ("tail numbers"), including the alphanumeric codes that identify the country of registration.
Regions and regional offices
ICAO World Headquarters, Montreal, Canada
The ICAO has seven regional offices serving nine regions:
1. Asia and Pacific, Bangkok, Thailand
2. Middle East, Cairo, Egypt
3. Western and Central Africa, Dakar, Senegal
4. South America, Lima, Peru
5. North America, Central America and Caribbean, Mexico City, Mexico
6. Eastern and Southern Africa, Nairobi, Kenya
7. Europe and North Atlantic, Paris, France
List of Secretaries General
Albert Roper (France) (1944–1951)
Carl Ljungberg (Sweden) (1952–1959)
Ronald MacAllister Macdonnell (Canada) (1959–1964)
Bernardus Tielman Twigt (Netherlands) (1964–1970)
Assad Kotaite (Lebanon) (1970–1976)
Yves Lambert (France) (1976–1988)
Shivinder Singh Sidhu (India) (1988–1991)
Philippe Rochat (Switzerland) (1991–1997)
Renato Claudio Costa Pereira (Brazil) (1997–2003)
Taïeb Chérif (Algeria) (2003–2009)
Raymond Benjamin (France) (2009–present)
List of Council Presidents
Edward Pearson Warner (United States) (1947–1957)
Walter Binaghi (Argentina) (1957–1976)
Assad Kotaite (Lebanon) (1976–2006)
Roberto Kobeh Gonzalez (Mexico) (2006–present)
ICAO and climate change
Emissions from international aviation are specifically excluded from the targets agreed under the Kyoto Protocol. Instead, the Protocol invites developed countries to pursue the limitation or reduction of emissions through the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). ICAO’s environmental committee continues to consider the potential for using market-based measures such as trading and charging, but this work is unlikely to lead to global action. It is currently developing guidance for states who wish to include aviation in an emissions trading scheme (ETS) to meet their Kyoto commitments, and for airlines who wish to participate voluntarily in a trading scheme.
Emissions from domestic aviation are included within the Kyoto targets agreed by countries. This has led to some national policies such as fuel and emission taxes for domestic air travel in the Netherlands and Norway respectively. Although some countries tax the fuel used by domestic aviation, there is no duty on kerosene used on international flights. (Aviation Environment Federation )
ICAO is currently against the inclusion of aviation in the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS). However, the EU is pressing ahead with its plans to include aviation from 2011.
Investigations of air disasters
Most air accident investigations are carried out by an agency of a country that is associated in some way with the accident - for example the Air Accidents Investigation Branch carried out accident investigations on behalf of the British Government. ICAO has however conducted two investigations involving air disasters, both incidents involving passenger airliners shot down while in international flight over hostile territory. The first incident occurred on 21 February 1973, during a period of tension which would lead to the Israeli-Arab "October war", when a Libyan Arab Airlines Flight 114 was shot down by Israeli F-4 jets over the Sinai Peninsula. The second incident occurred on 1 September 1983, during a period of heightened Cold War tension, when a Soviet Su-15 interceptor shot down a straying Korean Air Lines Flight 007 near Moneron Island just west of Sakhalin Island. KAL 007 was carrying 269 people, including 22 children under the age of 12, and a sitting U.S. congressman, Larry McDonald.