The International Civil Aviation Organization called a meeting of its Members and the topic was to set High Level Safety goals. With the recent spate of aviation problems among the Civil Aviation Authorities, one might have suspected that one prominent goal would be increased help and scrutiny for this sector. The Press Release touting the work product of this convocation did not highlight such a goal. One had to go to the Global Aviation Safety Program to find mention of the need to emphasize the ICAO’s safety oversight program. The statement does not mention any particular attention.
ICAO is an important global safety organization. Its contributions are sometimes difficult to measure because the UN process is slow. Another difficult aspect is its governance. One of the ICAO staff’s primary task is to surveil Member States’ compliance with the safety standards. Those same members review the staff’s performance and a large number of the countries both vote on ICAO’s meeting management standards and are subjects to ICAO’s inspections. Thus, while ICAO performs audits, their critiques might not be as tough as warranted.
GASP is described in a 90 page document and much of its content is focused on implementing a formula of safety performance enablers, effective safety oversight, SMS and predictive risk management for all of the countries. Those are estimable targets and ones which will challenge even the best of the CAAs. It neglects to mention and/or analyze those safety agencies which have demonstrated obvious deficiencies. A nation which receives a positive rating from ICAO should signify to the world that all is well within that country’s aviation operations.
Recent events have clearly put into question whether the ICAO imprimatur really conveys such a finding. Under such circumstances it would behoove ICAO’s credibility to visibly enhance its safety reviews of those countries and scrub its deficient Members before issuing a positive rating!