The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is a UN specialized agency. ICAO works with the Convention’s 191 Member States and industry groups to reach consensus on international civil aviation Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) and policies in support of a safe, efficient, secure, economically sustainable and environmentally responsible civil aviation sector.
Through the Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP), ICAO undertakes audits to determine Member States’ safety oversight capabilities and the status of their implementation of all safety-relevant ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices (ICAO Annexes), associated procedures, guidance material and safety best practices. The objective is to assist States with prioritizing investment in their aviation sectors, thereby maximizing the return and the associated broader developmental benefits of these investments.
During the course of an audit, ICAO can identify what is referred to as a ‘Significant Safety Concern’ with respect to the ability of the audited State to properly oversee airlines (air operators)under its jurisdiction.
A significant safety concern (SSC) does not necessarily indicate a particular safety deficiency in the air navigation service providers, airlines (air operators), aircraft or aerodrome; but, rather, indicates that the State is not providing sufficient safety oversight to ensure the effective implementation of applicable ICAO Standards.
Two SSCs were identified at the occasion of the most recent audit of Kyrgyzstan, in 2016, which resulted in substantial international cooperation efforts. These were undertaken within the framework of No Country Left Behind (NCLB) initiative in the EUR/NAT Region and ultimately resulted in the Republic of Kyrgyzstan resolving these SSC, which pertained to air operator certification and continuous oversight.
This significant result is an outcome of three years of extensive work led by ICAO’s EUR/NAT Regional Office and undertaken through the framework of the tailored plan of actions (TPA) which was endorsed by the State and implemented through a regional Technical Assistance project.
Work on this project began in February 2017, with the visit of experts from the ICAO EUR/NAT Regional Office to Kyrgyzstan, and was finalized in May 2019 following the SSC resolution. During this time, a total of 11 missions were undertaken to the Kyrgyz Republic. These involved experts from both the ICAO EUR/NAT Office (including the Regional Director) and other Member States.
Dr. Aliu, President of the Council of ICAO, and Mr. Luis Fonseca de Almeida, former Regional Director of ICAO EUR/NAT Office, with the Toraga (Speaker) of the Jogorku Kenesh (Parliament) Chynybay Tursunbekov
ICAO’s Council President, Dr. Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, also visited the State in May 2017, delivering important aviation safety and sustainability messages during a series of high-level meetings. Visiting Bishkek at the invitation of the Kyrgyzstan Government, and accompanied by the ICAO EUR/NAT Regional Director, President Aliu met with the Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan and the Chief of Cabinet of the President of the Kyrgyz Republic to advocate for aviation safety and sustainability.
Furthermore, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, in January 2018, ICAO’s Secretary General Dr. Fang Liu met with the Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan to discuss the reforms that had been made by his government in the area of civil aviation.
The ICAO Secretary meeting with the General Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan Sapar Isakov
Indeed, throughout the three year period of the project, substantial changes were made to the aviation legislative framework of the Kyrgyz Republic. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) also received additional funding for its activities, and was able to recruit new inspectors.
Improvements were made to the Inspector’s guidance material (handbooks), which was enriched significantly. Fifteen CAA inspectors in the areas of personnel licensing, air operator certification and airworthiness received theoretical and on-the-job training.
Signature of the technical assistance agreement between ICAO Regional Office and Kyrgyzstan Civil Aviation Authority. (Mr. Gandil, Director, French CAA, Mr. Fonseca de Almeida, ICAO former Regional Director, Mr. Akyshev Kurmanbek, Director of the Kyrgyz CAA, Mr. George Firican, former Deputy Director ICAO Regional Office ) in February 2017.
This success is the result of an international effort led by ICAO (at global and regional levels) that is supported by donor States and training organizations.
In this regard, ICAO would like to acknowledge Georgia, Turkey, Ukraine, and the United States for releasing their national experts to perform onsite training and review the inspector’s handbooks. ICAO would also like to express its gratitude to Ecole Nationale de l’Aviation Civile (ENAC), France; Civil Aviation Authority International (CAAI), UK; and the Singapore Civil Aviation Academy. These renown training organizations, offered gratis attendance at their respective training courses for the Kyrgyzstan CAA inspectorate staff. ICAO also acknowledges the support provided by international and regional organizations, such as IATA and the Interstate Aviation Committee (IAC).
Certain activities were performed in cooperation and collaboration with EASA through the EU-funded Eastern Partnership / Central Asia project.
In summary, this Kyrgyzstan regional technical assistance project, collaboratively funded through in-kind contributions from donor States, the Aviation Safety Implementation Assistance Partnership (ASIAP) program, State voluntary contributions to the ICAO Safety Fund (SAFE), and the ICAO regular budget, resulted in resolution of two Significant Safety Concerns: one in personnel licensing and one in aircraft operations. The State’s Effective Implementation (a common metric used when referring to States’ safety oversight system) has increased from 65% to around 72% in personnel licensing and aircraft operations.
The next step will be to further improve the Kyrgyzstan civil aviation safety oversight system to enable the gradual removal of Kyrgyzstan’s air operators from the European Union’s Air Safety List.
If ICAO identifies a Significant Safety Concern during the course of an audit, does it mean that it is unsafe to fly to that country? Or to fly with an airline from that State?
The identification of a Significant Safety Concern does not necessarily indicate a particular safety deficiency but, rather, indicates that the State is not providing sufficient oversight to ensure the effective implementation of all applicable ICAO Standards. It is important to emphasize that ICAO does not directly audit the aviation industry or aviation service providers. ICAO audits focus on the safety oversight capability of the designated governmental authority responsible for civil aviation. For more specific information on the safety of the various components of the State’s aviation system (ie the airlines, airports, aircraft or air navigation service providers), the public should refer to applicable travel advisories as may be issued by national or regional authorities.
The safest way to secure an infant or child on board an aircraft is in a State-approved child restraint system (CRS), in a dedicated seat that is age and size appropriate for that infant or child. In 2015, ICAO published the Manual on the Approval and Use of Child Restraint Systems to encourage the use of CRS and assists States and airlines with implementation.
However, the lack of an internationally harmonized approach to the approval, acceptability, and use of CRS on board aircraft has been one obstacle preventing the use of CRS when interlining between domestic and foreign operators on international flights. Parents who travel on multiple flights operated by different airlines, as part of their journey, may find that their CRS is accepted by one airline but not another. This can result in the parents having to lap hold their infant or young child, which defeats the purpose of the CRS.
During the last ICAO Assembly in 2016, States called for guidance from ICAO to harmonize the use of CRS and to ensure the safety of infants and young children who travel by air. ICAO worked with States and the airline industry and published the second edition of this manual which contains detailed guidance for the mutual acceptance of CRS between States to promote the use of CRS at the global level. This additional guidance facilitates seamless international operations for parents travelling with CRS, so that they may use their device throughout their entire journey to ensure infant and children fly safe.
“The new guidelines include an ICAO-recommended list of standards that States can use to simply accept CRS models already approved by other States without having to do all the approval work themselves,” remarked Martin Maurino, an ICAO technical officer. “It means the list of CRS models that parents can bring on board an airplane is significantly expanded, no matter which airline or what part of the world they are travelling in, making their journey hassle-free and allowing their children to fly in the safest possible way.”
The current list of standards is not exhaustive and includes the following:
SAE AS5276/1 (as amended)
SAE ARP4466 (or later version)
AS/NZS 1754:2013 (Australia and New Zealand)
CMVSS 213/213.1 (as amended) (Canada)
TÜV/958-01/2001 (or later version) (Germany)
FMVSS 213 (as amended) (United States)
TSO C-100 (as amended) (FAA) (United States)
ECE R-44 (as amended) (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe-UNECE)
ECE R-129 (as amended) (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe-UNECE)
The air transport industry is not only a vital engine of global socio-economic growth, but it is also of vital importance as a catalyst for economic development. Not only does the industry create direct and indirect employment and support tourism and local businesses, but it also stimulates foreign investment and international trade.
Informed decision-making is the foundation upon which successful businesses are built. In a fast-growing industry like aviation, planners and investors require the most comprehensive, up-to-date, and reliable data. ICAO’s aviation data/statistics programme provides accurate, reliable and consistent aviation data so that States, international organizations, aviation industry, tourism and other stakeholders can:
make better projections;
control costs and risks;
improve business valuations; and
The UN recognized ICAO as the central agency responsible for the collection, analysis, publication, standardization, improvement and dissemination of statistics pertaining to civil aviation. Because of its status as a UN specialized agency, ICAO remains independent from outside influences and is committed to consistently offering comprehensive and objective data. Every month ICAO produces this Air Transport Monitor, a monthly snapshot and analysis of the economic and aviation indicators.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT – June 2019
World Results and Analyses for April 2019
Total Scheduled Services (Domestic and International)
Revenue Passenger-Kilometres – RPK
World passenger traffic grew by +4.3% YoY in April 2019, +1.2 percentage points higher than the growth in the previous month. Despite a recovery from the record low, this growth was still the second lowest in the last five years. All regions posted a pick-up, except for Africa and North America. Europe revived as the fastest growing region followed by Latin America/Caribbean and North America. Performance in Asia/Pacific and the Middle East remained subdued. Russian Federation continued to show the fastest domestic growth, followed by China, the United States and Japan.
International Traffic vs. Tourist Arrivals
International passenger traffic grew by +5.1% YoY in April 2019, +2.6 percentage points higher than the growth in the previous month. All regions accelerated in traffic growth, except for Africa and Latin America/Caribbean. The Middle East returned to positive performance but remained weak. The growth of international tourist arrivals* was relatively less fluctuated.
Available Seat-Kilometres – ASK
Capacity worldwide increased by +3.6% YoY in April 2019, -0.6 percentage point lower than the growth in the previous month (+4.2%). According to the airline schedules, capacity expansion is expected to further slow down to +3.5% in May 2019.
Load Factor – LF
The passenger Load Factor reached 82.8% in April 2019, +1.1 percentage points higher than the LF recorded in the previous month. As traffic growth outpaced the capacity expansion, the April LF was +0.5 percentage point higher compared to the rate in the same period of 2018.
Freight Tonne-Kilometres – FTK
World freight traffic reported a decline of -4.7% YoY in April 2019, -4.8 percentage points lower than the growth in the previous month. After a temporary uptick, freight traffic fell notably again. All regions posted deceleration, except for Latin America/Caribbean which became the fastest growing region. A negative trend was observed in Asia/Pacific, Europe and the Middle East, attributing to the overall weakness of freight traffic. Growth in North America, the second largest region of freight traffic, has stagnated to almost the same level as a year ago. Conditions for freight growth remain challenging, impacted by various headwinds to global trade such as the trade tensions. Momentum continued in Africa, however, at a slightly slower pace.
Note: Figures include total scheduled and non-scheduled services
In terms of aircraft departures, the Top 15 airports reported a growth of +1.7% YoY. Twelve out of the Top 15 airports posted YoY increases. Atlanta remained at 1st and grew by a meagre +0.6%. The strongest growth in operations was recorded by Paris and Phoenix, both growing at +10.9%. Beijing posted a noticeable decrease of -8.3%.
In terms of passengers, the Top 15 airports reported a growth of +1.1% YoY. Eleven out of the Top 15 airports posted YoY increases. Four airports in Asia/Pacific and the Middle East posted decline, with Dubai contracting the most by -11.1%. The highest growth was reported by Paris at +12.9%, as a comparison to depressed figures due to an airline strike a year ago. In terms of freight, the Top 15 airports reported a decline of -5.4% YoY. All the Top 15 airports posted
YoY declines, except three airports in North America with Louisville up by +12.3%. A significant downward trend was observed in major hubs in Asia/Pacific. The sharpest fall was posted by Tokyo (-14.5%), followed by Singapore (-12.8%) and Taipei (-9.9%).
APR 2019: +4.5% YoY in terms of RPK for the Top 15
In terms of RPK, the Top 15 airline groups accounted for 48.7% of world total RPK in April 2019 and grew by +4.5% YoY. This growth was +0.2 percentage point higher than the world
average on scheduled services. Twelve out of the Top 15 airline groups posted YoY increases.
Delta retained the 1st position with a solid growth of +5.9%, followed by United, rising at
+4.7%. American continued to be 3rd and slipped by -1.3%. Southwest grew by a marginal
+0.3% and was down 1 position to 10th.
Emirates dipped sharply by -6.2% and ranked 2 positions down to 6th. Qatar recorded the
strongest growth among the Top 15 airlines, at a robust +20.4%, and ranked 13th.
Lufthansa grew solidly at 6.6% and improved 2 positions to 4th, followed by AF-KLM at 5th
with a brisk upswing of +9.5% comparing to the weak traffic last year impacted by airline strike.
Ryanair recorded the second fastest growth among the Top 15, at +10.8% and improved 1
position to 12th. Turkish Airlines continued to post a downward trend and contracted -5.0%.
Slower pace was observed in major airlines in Asia/Pacific with Singapore Airlines showing the
highest growth in the region, at +7.6%. China Southern and China Eastern grew by +6.3% and
+5.3%, and remained at 8th and 11th, respectively. Air China went up 1 position to 9th albeit
with moderate growth of +4.5%.
Worldwide capacity expanded by +3.6% YoY in April 2019. All regions posted deceleration in capacity expansion, except for Europe, which continued to be the fastest growing region. The most significant slowdown was posted by the Middle East, and the region became the only one with a decreased capacity YoY. In terms of YTD capacity increase, Africa and the Middle East remained as the slowest regions.
Acronyms: ACI: Airports Council International; ASK: Available Seat-Kilometres; IATA: International Air Transport Association; FTK: Freight Tonne-Kilometres; LF: Passenger Load Factor; OAG: Official Airline Guide; RPK: Revenue Passenger-Kilometres; UNWTO: World Tourism Organization; YoY: Year-on-year; YTD: Year-to-date.
ICAO has partnered with the John Molson Executive Centre to provide a management level training programme for aviation industry leaders and managers who want to upskill and/or refresh their management knowledge and skills on important concepts of the civil aviation industry.
Civil aviation is a rapidly growing industry, and with this growth there is a demand for management-level professionals to be trained and ready to take on the new challenges that will inevitably arise in the ever-growing industry. The Management Certificate in Civil Aviation (MCCA) is comprised of three certificates, each covering the main subject areas to help individuals prepare and enhance their leadership skills in civil aviation. These include: strategic management; human resources management; and business planning and decision-making. These areas of focus provide current and future leaders in civil aviation with the tools needed to bring their organizations up to speed on critical industry issues.
Hybrid learning for flexibility
The triad of certificates that make up the MCCA are all offered in a hybrid learning environment. Over five weeks of aviation-related hybrid learning, each certificate provides a well-rounded view of the subject area under the instruction of a variety of professionals who represent unique perspectives.
Each certificate begins with four weeks of online learning, which includes videos, their transcriptions, and the corresponding course slides, which, combined, accommodate the different ways in which participants absorb information. Although this portion of the certificate is offered online, resources are never far away. Participants are encouraged to communicate with their instructors in order to promote a good understanding of the material, even from thousands of miles away. The combination of materials and resources presents learners with a supportive and interactive learning environment. This allows them to begin their learning journey without interrupting their daily routine and work schedule.
The face-to-face portion of the certificate brings participants together in Montreal, a civil aviation hub and a prime location for aviation training. During this intensive, on-site week, participants will not only learn from their course instructors, but also from their fellow classmates. Through group work, discussions, and collaboration, participants from across the aviation industry are encouraged to connect and share their ideas, knowledge and experiences. This introduces the added level of peer learning. According to participant Cary Price, Manager of the Civil Aviation Training Centre at the Trinidad Civil Aviation Authority, the combination of both a diverse learning group and varied faculty was an important aspect of the certificate. “It was an enriching experience being in that environment with a lot of professionals and learning from other professionals, instructors and lecturers,” Price says.
Teaching the methods that work
The MCCA is designed to provide managers and leaders with practical knowledge that can be useful in their work environment. It can also assist them in preparing for future positions that they are striving for. “I’ve done a lot of programmes before,” Price says. “But this programme was the first one that actually gave me tools that I can actually implement and use in the workplace.” Working through case studies and situations which focus on real-life industry challenges, allows participants of the three certificates to gain valuable insights and considerations regarding important issues. They leave with a deeper understanding on how to handle such issues in the most effective manner (and what methods don’t work and why). Kurt Solomon, Air Traffic Control Instructor at the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority says the information provided in the programme is highly valuable for him and his team. “We need this information, we need to be better managers of our organization, and we need to be better employees as well, so we function in both capacities and the skillsets here are really transferable to what we do.”
Training managers and leaders from around the world
As of May 2019, the Management Certificate in Civil Aviation will have hosted participants from every continent around the world. They come from a variety of different positions and backgrounds that include air navigation services personnel; human resources managers; pilots; operations managers; and project managers, to name a few. Professionals from both private, government and UN organizations have participated in at least one of the three certificates, and many have returned to continue and complete the full Management Certificate in Civil Aviation.
“I will never regret having taken this programme, it is hands-on and it will drive the organization forward to achieve its intended goals and visions.”
In such a rapidly growing and changing global industry, it is crucial that managers and leaders have access to industry-specific training that will not only serve to accelerate their careers, but will also help move their organizations forward.
“I will never regret having taken this programme,” says participant Gabriel Sharp Etsey, Planning Analyst at the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority. “It is hands-on and it will drive the organization forward to achieve its intended goals and visions.”
Calling for enhanced cooperation and assistance at a meeting of regional civil aviation directors general, ICAO Secretary General Dr. Fang Liu cautioned that the insufficient compliance with aviation safety and security requirements presented a substantial threat to the vitality of the tourism industry in the Caribbean.
“Oxford Economics has forecast that air transport and tourism in Latin America and the Caribbean could support as much as 9.7 million jobs and 430 billion dollars in regional GDP by 2034. But this 88% increase in regional aviation employment, and 15% increase in economic impact, will only be placed in greater jeopardy if better ICAO compliance is not committed to and assured here,” Dr. Liu remarked.
Delivering the opening remarks at the Ninth Meeting of the Directors General of Civil Aviation for ICAO’s North American, Central American, and Caribbean Region (NACC) in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, the Secretary General of ICAO, Dr. Fang Liu, cautioned that the insufficient compliance with aviation safety and security requirements presented a substantial threat to the vitality of the tourism industry in the Caribbean
The Secretary General stressed that the UN agency is opening and pursuing multiple avenues to lift compliance and promote the sustainable development of air connectivity among NACC States. She highlighted the “hands-on approach” undertaken through the NACC Systemic Assistance Programme, and the strategic guidance ICAO provides through its global safety and security planning.
Dr. Liu also noted that ICAO and its NACC Regional Office are partnering with lenders and donor institutions to assist the region in meeting some of its more pressing budgetary and personnel resource challenges. In this regard, she underscored the importance of the relationship ICAO has initiated with CARICOM, the progress toward the development of the NACC Regional Safety Oversight Organization (RSOO), and the launch of regional initiatives in support of Regional Accident and Incident Investigation Organizations (RAIOs).
The Directors General in attendance were also reminded by Dr Liu that “even an enviable safety performance record cannot be taken for granted. Rather it requires constant vigilance on behalf of every player in the intensive team effort which is aviation safety.”
Here, a critical component of the region’s overall safety posture concerns the institutional strength of its civil aviation authorities (CAA). “The successes of your recent efforts toward the establishment of regional accident investigation groups will mitigate certain risks, but in the end these collaborative objectives and achievements must be complemented by strong local government commitments and investments in CAA infrastructure and resources,” Dr Liu noted. She also highlighted the crucial importance of addressing implementation gaps related to State Safety Programmes.
The challenges and opportunities set forth by Dr. Liu were explored in greater detail in a series of substantial bilateral meetings that took place during the event. The Secretary General met with:
the Minister of Works and Transport of Trinidad and Tobago, the Honourable Rohan Sinanan;
the Director General of the Civil Aviation Authority of Mexico, Mr. Rodrigo Vásquez;
the Representative of the United States on the Council of ICAO, Ambassador Thomas Carter, and the Acting Deputy Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, Mr. Carl Burleson;
the Director General of the Civil Aviation Authority of Bahamas, Mr. Charles Beneby;
the President of the Aeronautical Institute of Cuba, Mr. Armando Daniel López;
the Permanent Secretary of Public Works and Ports of Dominica, Mrs. Denise Edwards;
the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism of Grenada, Ms. Arlene Buckmire-Outram, and the Chief Executive Officer of the Grenada Airports Authority, Ms. Wendy Francette-Williams;
the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Aviation of Saint Kitts and Nevis, Mrs. Kaye Bass.
These meetings provided an important setting in which the specific priorities of each State were discussed.
Throughout all her bilateral meetings and through her address, the Secretary General acknowledged the commitment of NACC States to progress on ICAO compliance issues. “The level of participation evident at this 9th Meeting of NACC Directors General of Civil Aviation is a clear indication of the strong and active commitment which your States have established to work together through ICAO,” she remarked. “We must continue to confront challenges, not only through ICAO’s No Country Left Behind initiative and the other support that ICAO can provide, but also by each of you as aviation leaders in your States.”
This year’s graduating cadre of young cadets could possibly be the last to enjoy full, four-decade careers as traditional commercial airline pilots. By the time they are ready to retire, around 2060, pilot jobs as we currently know them will “start to become obsolete,” according to Richard de Crespigny. He’s the Qantas captain who led a five-pilot team that safely landed a severely crippled A380 in Singapore in 2010.
Pilotless aircraft “will eventually be built,” he predicted, perhaps in production by 2040. “Innovative airlines will buy them. Adventurous passengers will fly them.” Boeing is conducting flight tests related to autonomous or reduced-crew civil aircraft in a two-year project at Moses Lake, Washington. The tests include using a modified vehicle for an autonomous taxi, autonomous flight algorithms in a simulator, flight tests of an artificial intelligence (AI)-based system in a Cessna Caravan, plus engine start, pushback, taxi, manoeuver and takeoff roll using a Boeing 787 Dreamliner technology testbed. The objective is to determine if such aircraft could be operated for freight or passenger-carrying missions with the same levels of safety as current manned aircraft.
Volcopter – electric, autonomous, German
“A pilotless airliner is going to come; it’s just a question of when,” said James Albaugh – in 2011 when he was president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airlines. “You’ll see it in freighters first, over water probably, landing very close to the shore.” Sixteen years ago in 2002, Craig J. Mundie, then chief research and strategy officer for Microsoft (now senior advisor to the CEO), made a $2,000 public wager with Eric Schmidt, then CEO of Google, that “by 2030, commercial passengers will routinely fly in pilotless planes.” Mundie’s logic was that “if we stay on this Moore’s law kick – (computers) will be about 4,000 times more powerful,” adding that “with computers increasingly a part of critical infrastructure, the industry is going to have to focus a lot more on making machines that just don’t fail.” Schmidt’s contrary argument claimed, “the training and timing around handling emergencies such as engine failure at rotation are not going to be transferrable to autopilots and machines.”
“We are quite confident that technologically, the toolkit is filled. With respect to a commercial aircraft, there is no doubt in our minds that we can solve the problem of autonomous flight,” stated John Tracy, Boeing’s chief technology officer, now retired, two years ago. “It’s a question of certification procedures, regulatory requirements and, even more significantly, public perception.”
“The future pilot will still be needed, but he or she will sit in an office flying and managing the aircraft from the ground like the drone pilots already do,” said Capt. Tilmann Gabriel, chairman of the International Pilot Training Association (IPTA), which assists ICAO with expertise in developing training and simulation guidance.
Airbus Vahana concept
Not surprisingly, many experts believe commercial airliners will never go pilotless. What happens if the computer flying the plane malfunctions? According to NASA data, an aircraft system malfunction occurs on 20% of flights, Moreover, AI would follow “by the book” rules-based judgments and might not be able to make human-type “generative intelligence” decisions such as the emergency ditching in the Hudson River by Capt. Chesley Sullenberger. “Humans are particularly good at adaptive problem-solving and discovery, areas where there has been little machine intelligence progress,” explained Michael Feary, a research scientist at NASA Ames Research Center.
Scenarios of “cascading failures” occur many times, noted Keith Hagy, the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) director of engineering and safety. “Those are the kind of abnormal situations when you really need a pilot on board with that judgment and experience and to make decisions.”
A skeptical public
“The issue has never been could you automate an aircraft and fly it autonomously?” said Dr. R. John Hansman, professor of aeronautics and astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Director of the MIT International Center for Air Transportation. “The issue is could you put paying customers in the back of that aircraft”.
A majority of people, 54%, said they would not fly in a pilotless plane (even if the ticket price was cheaper), according to a UBS survey last year. Only 17% said they would, though this percentage increased for those with higher educations and incomes. In the 25-34 age group, 30% responded that they were very likely or somewhat likely to fly in an autonomous airliner (versus 40% who were unlikely or very unlikely to do so). In the 55-64 bracket, the unlikely group rose to 60% with only 10% likely or unlikely.
Americans are far more interested with 27% very/somewhat likely to fly in a pilotless plane, compared with only 15% for respondents from the UK, France and Germany. The 8,000 people surveyed are more inclined to try a driverless car (30%), though the research was conducted before a pedestrian was killed by an Uber test vehicle operating in autonomous mode. In a Travelzoo survey, 38% said they would prefer a Star Trek-style teleporter (at the moment, a fictional device).
The UBS report claimed the aviation industry could save up to $35 billion a year by eliminating pilots in the cockpit: more than $26 billion in pilot salaries, benefits and training costs, $3 billion for business aviation, $2.1 billion for civil helicopters, over $1 billion in fuel savings from computer-driven flight optimisation, plus $3 billion from lower insurance premiums.
Embraer X’s DreamMaker
How about one pilot?
“The more disruptive approach is to say maybe we can reduce the crew needs for our future aircraft,” Airbus chief technology officer Paul Eremenko said recently. “We’re pursuing single-pilot operation as a potential option and a lot of the technologies needed to make that happen have also put us on the path towards unpiloted operation.”
Boeing Research and Technology vice president Charles Toups said it may take a “couple of decades” to persuade passengers to take a single-pilot jet, suggesting public support for the concept would start with proliferation of self-driving cars.
“They are going to remove the co-pilot,” stated Stephen Rice, a human factors professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. “The manufacturers like the idea because they can redesign the cockpit. The airlines I’ve spoken to like the idea because it saves costs in the same way that removing the third person from the cockpit did decades ago.”
The future pilot will still be needed, but he or she will sit in an office flying and managing the aircraft from the ground like the drone pilots already do.
Capt. Tilmann Gabriel
Chairman, International Pilot Training Association
To support a single-pilot cockpit, French Air and Space Academy (AAE) and NASA Ames/Rockwell Collins research recommends a ground-based operator, much like today’s military drone operators who control aircraft from half a world away. According to Jean Broquet, an AAE member and former designer of automated satellite control systems, Pilot-Ground operators (PGs), would be qualified as pilots, including holding a type rating (there goes some of those personnel and training cost savings.)
The AAE estimates one PG can simultaneously manage up to five flights in short- to medium-haul operations. In the NASA “super-dispatcher” concept, a trained pilot could remotely oversee the flights of as many as a dozen aircraft at once. If an airborne pilot needed help because of equipment malfunction or medical emergency, the ground-based aviator could help fly the aircraft.
The airline flight crews who participated in their single-pilot simulator-based research “weren’t as negative as I thought they would be,” said NASA research psychologist Walter Johnson. “They don’t want to fly alone, but what I got from them was that, [with a copilot on the ground], it probably would work.”
“The main issue for single-pilot operations is cybersecurity,” said Joel B. Lachter, NASA computer scientist. “In order for it to be done safely, automation or ground operators would need authority to be able to step in in the case of off-nominal issues such as pilot incapacitation. If they can eliminate the cybersecurity threats surrounding those operations, I think it is feasible.”
The chief executive of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Alexandre de Juniac, said he is “not convinced by the single-pilot issue. I don’t see the plus. I do see the minus.”
Flying above traffic jams
Mashups of technology companies, automotive companies, traditional aviation OEMs and startups are attempting to create a new market niche known as “urban air mobility” (UAM), aka “flying cars” or “flying taxis.”
Google is testing a two-person, electric powered air taxi in New Zealand known as Cora, which uses three onboard computers to calculate its flight path – no pilot necessary – with 12 lift fans for vertical takeoff and horizontal flight, and with a parachute (similar to the Cirrus fixed-wing aircraft). Top speed 93 mph. Altitude 3,000 feet. Range 62 miles. German startup Lilium, which has recruited key personnel from Airbus and Tesla, is touting a five-seat vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) electric jet which could fly in excess of 180 mph and transit from London to Paris in an hour. The first “functional crewed flight” is expected by next year and the on-demand air taxi service by 2025.
Pilotless aircraft will eventually be built...innovative airlines will buy them. Adventurous passengers will fly them.
Capt. Richard de Crespigny
Airbus has multiple short-haul aircraft ventures spinning up. Project Vahana from their Silicon Valley-based A3 research centre is a self-piloted single passenger VTOL with automated obstacle detection; a production model is targeted for 2020. The CityAirbus with four ducted fans would seat 3-4, operated by a single pilot (but evolving to fully autonomous operation in the future) – look for a demonstrator and a piloted test flight in 2019. Airbus is also working with Audi on the Pop.Up Next driverless car/drone/air taxi.
A Dutch company unveiled the first production model PAL-V Liberty flying car at the Geneva, Switzerland motor show in March. The $615,000 two-engine, two-seater can drive up to 105 mph on three wheels or fly at 112 mph using a rear-mounted propeller, traversing up to 300 miles on unleaded gasoline. Pal-V requires a short runway to take off and land, and operators will have to qualify as gyroplane pilots (there’s an unpowered rotor which serves as a parachute).
Bell Helicopter (Fort Worth, Texas) is partnered with ride-share company Uber in a flying taxi initiative called Elevate, scheduled to debut in Dallas-Fort Worth, Los Angeles and Dubai in 2020. Initially, traditional pilots will be required, but they are hoping that “pilot augmentation technology will significantly reduce pilot skill requirements, and this could lead to a commensurate reduction in training time,” similar to an FAA light-sport pilot licence. “Not only must the FAA be convinced, but the insurers who cover the risk of the operation will need to see that pilot skill and experience requirements are reduced.”
Lowering the boom
Several commercial supersonic aircraft programmes are on the drawing boards in the US, Japan and Russia, and some of the initiatives are transitioning to a flight demonstration phase. Spike Aerospace (Boston, Massachusetts) flew an unmanned subscale version of their S-512 supersonic design in 2017. Denver, Colorado-based Boom Supersonic’s two-crew, one-third scale XB-1 “Baby Boom” demonstrator is scheduled to fly sometime of this year. Aerion (Reno, Nevada), which has worked with Airbus, General Electric and Lockheed Martin, plans to proceed directly to full-size pre-production AS2 aircraft. All three programmes are targeting flight testing and initial production aircraft deliveries in the 2021-2025 timeframe.
To get there, the contenders not only need to design for Mach 1.2 to 2.2 speeds, they must address challenges of fuel efficiency, carbon dioxide emissions, noise levels on takeoff and landing, and the ultimate dilemma, sonic booms. Even so, they may not be allowed to overfly the US because of an FAA ban on flights exceeding Mach 1 that was implemented in 1973. The FAA is collaborating with ICAO technical working groups on recommended standards for noise and emissions, Mach cut-off (flight conditions in which sonic booms do not reach the ground’s surface) and “low boom.”
Dan Nale, Gulfstream senior vice president of programs, engineering and test, believes flying a supersonic business jet will be “very similar” to flying a subsonic jet. “Modern flight controls and fly-by-wire systems do an excellent job of compensating for the aerodynamic effects of transonic and supersonic flight. Where supersonic pilots are most likely to feel the effects of speed is on their displays. Distances will shrink at a surprising rate, airborne traffic will be quickly overtaken, and pilots will have to carefully plan their arrivals and descents to effectively transition from high and fast to the terminal environment.”
This article has been reprinted and adapted by permission of Civil Aviation Training (CAT) magazine, Halldale Group.
Rick Adams, Editor of the ICAO Journal, is a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society (FRAeS).
Five years ago ICAO’s Technical Cooperation Bureau (TCB) organized the first Global Aviation Cooperation Symposium. At the heart of the first GACS was the establishment of a forum that would cover the full spectrum of civil aviation, allowing for States and other industry stakeholders to exchange on the challenges they faced. By offering a comprehensive and holistic approach, the Symposium successfully provided a central platform for discussions on key issues and the exchange of views and the latest trends and innovations in air transport, as well as sharing best practices to support a safe and efficient future for global aviation.
The theme of the original GACS was “Building Cooperation for the Future of Civil Aviation: Innovation, Growth and Technical Cooperation”. The event was hosted at ICAO Headquarters and attended by more than 400 participants from around the globe. In addition, 35 industry and Government sponsors and exhibitors contributed to ensure the event’s success.
Three years later in 2017, TCB collaborated with the Hellenic Civil Aviation Organization (HCAA) and the Athens International Airport (AIA), to organize the second Global Aviation Cooperation Symposium (GACS/2). The theme was “Managing Change: Building a Safe, Secure and Sustainable Aviation Community”; more than 350 participants attended the panels, workshops and industry exhibition. The regional event helped to foster a forum for regulators, service providers, operators and other industry stakeholders to discuss and share their experiences and best practices in implementing technical cooperation projects, with the aim of fostering a solid aviation community.
GACS/3 will feature speaker sessions, discussion panels, and workshops that cover all main areas of civil aviation, including infrastructure development and compliance improvement through technical expertise. Topics will address cooperation through regional projects, capacity building through training, and project funding and resource mobilization. Moreover, the event will offer a unique opportunity to obtain in-depth knowledge of ICAO’s Technical Cooperation Programme and how it can meet States’ needs.
ICAO and CAAT have invited all States and other stakeholders to participate in GACS/3. For more information on the event, you may contact the coordination team here.
The TCB Vision
There is a need for increased technical cooperation and assistance across the full spectrum of civil aviation to achieve the goals of the ICAO No Country Left Behind (NCLB) initiative. In this respect, the vision of ICAO’s Technical Cooperation Bureau (TCB) is to enable States to attain a high standard of Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) compliance, thereby reaping the economic and social benefits related to air transport. TCB understands the needs and challenges of the aviation world and from experience knows how to overcome those problems with efficiency and effectiveness.
TCB assists States to improve their operational safety, security, and efficiency to contribute to the global and uniform implementation of ICAO SARPs. With more than six decades of experience, and drawing upon all of the technical expertise and knowledge available within ICAO, TCB’s mission is to provide unrivalled in-depth assistance to States with their aviation projects.
The main goals of GACS/3:Goal 1 – Bridging the Gap: Complying with the Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs).
The Symposium will set the stage of aviation today, underscoring the challenges the aviation community faces in the near future and discuss how best to decrease the SARPs compliance gap in order to build and maintain a safe, secure and sustainable aviation system.
Goal 2 – Determining unique solutions for capacity building through technical cooperation and assistance projects.
States will have the occasion to capture commonly found issues, solutions and best practices shared through the presentation of Technical Cooperation and Technical Assistance projects. In order to build a safe, secure and sustainable air transport industry, potential solutions will be discussed, organized in topics, including infrastructure development, training, and capacity building through experts, regional cooperation, and leveraging synergies with development partners.
Goal 3 – Promote the role ICAO’s Technical Cooperation Programme in assisting States to achieve their goals.
The Symposium will also provide a general overview of ICAO’s TC Programme services and best practices assisting Member States and regional organizations to bridge the non-compliance gap.
Goal 4 – Strengthen institutional and cross-industry relationships.
The Symposium will bring together ICAO experts, Member States, industry providers, national, regional and international organizations to enhance collaboration between regulators, industry, donors and other stakeholders through technical cooperation.
ICAO and the Runway Safety Programme Partners have been working together to minimize and mitigate the risks of runway incursions, runway excursions and other events linked to runway safety.
The Runway Safety Programme promotes the establishment of runway safety teams at airports as an effective means of reducing runway-related accidents and incidents. The Runway Safety Go-Team brings a voluntary multi-disciplinary assistance visit, an ad-hoc group of experts, to an airport. As a priority, this category of accidents was clearly defined in both ICAO’s Global Aviation Safety Plan and the European Regional Aviation Safety Plan (EUR RASP). The Global Runway Safety Action Plan was developed in collaboration with the Runway Safety Programme Partners and is linked to the ICAO Global Aviation Safety Plan. The current edition of the Global Aviation Safety Plan (GASP) identifies runway safety as a global safety priority.
Since 2016, when the deployment of Runway Safety Go-Teams was defined as the regional Safety Enhancement Initiative, ICAO’s EUR/NAT office has supported six Go-Team missions. This work was performed within the framework of the ICAO EUR/NAT Technical Assistance project 16003 “Runway Safety Go-team Missions” and with the support of donor States (France, Russia, Turkey) and international and regional organizations (ACI, CANSO Europe, EUROCONTROL, FAA, IATA, IFALPA) which provided their experts to ensure multidisciplinary and multicultural approach.
Recently, the ICAO EUR/NAT Office organized a Runway Safety Go-Team mission to Rabat, Morocco. This mission, which was conducted from 18 to 20 June 2019, brought another accomplishment to the regional goal of establishing and improving of Runway Safety Team performance for all EUR/NAT international aerodromes. The Go-Team mission began with a workshop that was attended by 34 participants (pictured above) from Moroccan Civil Aviation Authorities, airports, air operators, air navigation service providers, ground handlers, civil and military. This was followed with practical exercises and resulted in a number of recommendations for further implementation by the CAA and service providers.
ICAO’s EUR/NAT Office is committed to continuing this work to improve safety in the region and to ensuring that flying will become even safer. There are three more Runway Safety Go-Team missions that are expected to be deployed by the end of 2019 in the EUR/NAT Regions.
In mid-June, as UBER was announcing the launching of its unmanned electric vertical take-off vehicle for commercial use as soon as 2023, I realized that “The Jetson” era had arrived. For those from a younger generation, the Jetsons were in a cartoon from the 60s that depicted the life of a middle-class family in the “space age”.
One by one, the mystical technologies of the Jetson times have become an integral part of my life…first the electric automatic oven, then computers, video telecommunication devices, the use of robots servicing the house (Rosie is here!) and now autonomous urban flying vehicles (George Jetson commuted to work in an aerocar with a transparent bubble top).
Innovation has been at the centre of many ICAO discussions this year. This trend continued last week when we heard various announcements of new aviation-related technologies being launched, prompted by “Le Bourget”, the biennial French aviation fair that opened on 17 June 2019.
Jane Hupe, the Deputy Director of Environment in the Air Transport Bureau at ICAO and the Secretary of the Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP)
The pace of change has never been so intense. Radical innovation can be created and deployed in just a few years – innovation will be quicker and cheaper and its global access will be far-reaching. In the midst of this fourth industrial revolution, business models from each and every industry will be transformed, and the way we think, learn, work and live will change significantly in its scale, scope and complexity.
It is no coincidence that innovation was the theme of the two-day event that was held with the ICAO Council, ICAO senior management and key aviation industry representatives on June 13th and 14th. Participants discussed and reflected upon aviation and innovation, and of course the role of ICAO in this inspiring flying future. The big question is how will aviation fit in this changing world, and in particular, how will environmental sustainability drive these changes? This is also why the theme chosen for this year’s ICAO Environmental Symposium is “Destination Green – The Next Chapter”. This theme will continue in the 2019 ICAO Environmental Report, which will be launched prior to the ICAO Assembly later this year.
In preparation for the upcoming 40th Session of the ICAO Assembly, States, industry and civil society came together at the 2019 ICAO Environmental Symposium, to exchange information and views on their achievements related to environmental protection and on the expectations and challenges ahead. Environmentally driven innovation for aviation was a big part of this Symposium. Although these innovations cross around many domains, I will focus this article on electric and hybrid aircraft.
There are more than 200 initiatives on such aircraft. Of these, there are still up to 40 that seem to be in a stage of development that provides sufficient technical information to be followed-up. From these findings, ICAO launched an e-platform, the Electric and Hybrid Aircraft Platform for Innovation (E-HAPI), which includes basic information on these projects. The intention is to update this platform as new projects are initiated, and as more information becomes available. You can find information on these aircraft here on our website.
It is worth noting that some of the smaller aircraft projects are expected as early as 2020 and that, in addition to the more traditional manufacturers, many new players are becoming involved in the manufacturing of these electric aircraft.
Make no mistake: the big issue here is the battery technology – how to get the amount of power needed to fly, its weight, the source of energy, the time required for charging these batteries, and the propulsion. As these projects have been environmentally driven, it will make no sense if the source of energy generates more CO2 emissions than burning fossil fuels.
There are, of course, many technical challenges to address, but what is clear to me is that we can no longer say that we do not know if there will be a technology for making aviation sustainable. There are many potential technologies and the innovation breakthroughs may come earlier than we expected. It is also clear that there will be a progressive evolution that begins with what we call the eVTOL (electric aircraft with vertical take-off and landing) with small weight like the air taxi from UBER announced in the last weeks. Then, of course, there will be small aircraft, with up to ten seats, and the regional aircraft with up to 20 seats. Some hybrid concepts with hybrids up to 100 seats are expected by 2030 and from there, technology is still being researched. We are also looking closely to turbogenerators that could be an important component for hybrid solutions since they could generate onboard electricity. When used in conjunction with the batteries they might improve substantially the range when compared to full electric aircraft.
The issue when we go to the larger aircraft up to 200 seats and beyond (i.e.A320, 737), is that the weights of the batteries make it unfeasible to use electrical energy as a propulsion source.
Currently, the energy density of jet fuel is more than 40 times higher than a typical battery used in electric vehicles or concept aircraft. In simple terms, the level of energy needed is so great that even if we used batteries with much better performance than those in existence today, we would still require a volume of batteries that would be many more times the weight of the aircraft. In quoting the CTO Safran, Mr. Cueille, “Even if we multiply by 5 the performance of the best current batteries, 170 tonnes of batteries would still need to be on board to fly an A30 that has a maximum take of weight of 80 tonnes.”
There are other phenomena linked to the transition of energy that also need further consideration as we fly in higher altitudes with very low temperatures and pressure. Those considerations will require more time.
Innovation is in the air! That is what I felt as I looked at the new technologies on display at “Le Bourget” this year. We need to better inform the public of these possibilities, especially the younger generations who are rightly demanding an environmentally friendly future. They want to hear about the solutions for sustainable flying.
2019 is set to be a decisive year for sustainability and climate change in the UN. The UN Secretary General António Guterres has organized a Climate Change Summit in September 2019 in order to secure more ambitious targets towards combating climate change and to secure additional commitments and actions from the public and private sectors.
The Summit will take place in New York on 23 September, when the first ICAO Innovation Fair will be taking place in Montreal. Many of the innovations mentioned above will be on display, and it is important that this information reach the participants of the 2019 Climate Change Summit in New York, as well as the ICAO Assembly, which will start on 24 September.
Cross-sector collaboration will become increasingly important and ICAO will continue to act as a collaborator, leading interagency coordination on aviation matters and working closely with our non-governmental partners to plan and implement projects for maximum impact and sustainability. It takes a shared, global response to meet the shared, global challenges we face.
The Council of ICAO established the North Atlantic Systems Planning Group (NAT SPG) in 1965. Since its inception, ICAO has long recognized the valuable contribution of the Group, which has been at the forefront of the advancement of civil aviation matters. Today, Ms. Hlin Holm, the Head of Air Navigation Services Section of the Icelandic Transport Authority was elected by the NAT SPG/55 as its Chairperson. Ms. Holm is the first female Chairperson of any of the ICAO Planning and Implementation Regional Groups. Ms. Holm will succeed Mr. Ásgeir PÁLSSON who is stepping down after 20 years of valuable leadership to the group.
The North Atlantic Systems Planning Group (NAT SPG) was the first regional planning group established by the Council of ICAO. From its Terms of Reference, the NAT SPG continuously studies, monitors and evaluates Air Navigation systems in light of changing traffic characteristics, technological advances and updated traffic forecasts.