THE POSTAL HISTORY OF ICAO

 

The Air Navigation Commission

 

On 7 December 1944, the Chicago Conference concluded with the signature of a Final Act that was a formal and official record summarizing the work. One of its instruments was the Interim Agreement on International Civil Aviation which was opened for signature. Its purpose was that of a bridging mechanism to permit an early beginning of the global effort while awaiting the ratification of the Convention by the 26th State. This Interim Agreement was accepted by the 26th State on 6 June 1945; in fact 30 acceptances had already been received by the US State Department as of that date. Thus the Provisional International Civil Aviation Organization (PICAO) was born on that date. PICAO, which had only advisory powers, was to remain in existence until the permanent organization was created, but its life in any case was restricted to three years. PICAO had two governing bodies: the Interim Assembly and the Interim Council (Article I, Section 2 of the Interim Agreement).

 

The powers and duties of the Interim Council are described in Article III, Section 5 of the Interim Agreement. So, among those, any subsidiary working groups, which may be considered desirable, shall be established; among those, there shall be a Committee on Air Navigation and a Committee on Air Transport; if a Member State so desires, it shall have the right to appoint a representative on any such interim committee or working group.

 

In Part I of the Final Act of the Chicago Conference (i.e. Work of the Conference), Chapter II on the Draft Technical Annexes, the International Civil Aviation Conference resolved that the participating States undertake to forward to the Government of the United States (or PICAO if established) by 1 May 1945 any recommendations which they may have for necessary additions, deletions or amendments to the Annexes prepared at the Chicago Conference. The US Government or PICAO shall transmit such suggestions to the other participating States in anticipation of meetings of the technical committees to be established by PICAO.

 

The 25 Member States of the International Commission for Air Navigation (ICAN) also undertook to submit by 1 May 1945 their recommendations with regards to any changes that they might think it necessary to make to the text of the draft Annexes. Moreover those States also asked the ICAN Secretary General to enter on the Agenda of the Organization the examination of the twelve technical Annexes of Chicago with a view to studying any amendments that it might be necessary to make in the texts of these drafts in order for them to be subsequently adopted by the ICAN in place of the present Annexes to the Paris Convention; the sub-commissions and committees of the ICAN were accordingly convened in April and May 1945 to undertake this study and met at the seat of the Commission in Paris.

 

So, substantial groundwork had already been done awaiting action by the Interim Council. The emphasis was on arrangements for the provision of adequate air navigation facilities and for setting up air safety standards.

 

On 2 October 1945 at 14:40, the ANC held its first meeting in the Committee Room No. 1 located in the Dominion Square Building, Montréal.

As the technical element of PICAO, the Committee on Air Navigation (or Air Navigation Committee, ANC) was established by the Interim Council on 28 August 1945 and held its first meeting on Tuesday 2 October 1945; this first Session ended on Tuesday 27 November 1945. Directed and coordinated by the Air Navigation Committee, a number of technical sub-committees, composed of specialists from member states and of observers from organizations interested in international civil aviation and assisted by the Organization’s secretariat, were set up to consider the recommended practices for air navigation. During the ANC meeting held on 29 October 1945, the ANC members felt that the objectionable prefix sub (in the designation of sub-committees, a term derived from the Chicago Convention) should be overcome. Therefore, the term Division was suggested, which would imply a relatively high organizational status and at the same time indicate strong connection with the Committee. By decision of the Interim Council on 30 November 1945, the technical sub-committees or working groups were renamed thus Divisions. This term is still used today for some working groups, e.g. Accident Investigation and Prevention (AIG) Division. In other instances, the term Division was later replaced by Committee or Panel.

 

Thus the 11 Divisions established under the responsibility of the Air Navigation Committee met at intervals, from the September-October 1945 period, to discuss the changes to be made in the standards and to recommend what action was required in their specific field of interest. In addition, a Special Radio Technical Division was convened in Montreal on 30 October 1946 to appraise wartime communications and navigational devices and technologies that might be adaptable to civil needs.

 

The Recommendations for Standards, Practices and Procedures drawn up by the technical divisions were subsequently approved by the PICAO Council. Although PICAO had no mandatory powers, the standards were presented to the various member states of PICAO for adoption in their national regulations. By the time the first meeting of the Interim Assembly opened on 21 May 1946, nine of the eleven divisions reporting to the Air Navigation Committee had produced recommendations.

 

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) was officially born on 4 April 1947, thirty days after the Chicago Convention had been ratified by the required twenty-six states. According to Article 54, the Council adopts the International Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) designated as Annexes to the Convention. The Air Navigation Commission (ANC) is the key player as the latter Commission considers and recommends to the Council the adoption and modifications to the Annexes of the Convention (Article 57). According to Article 56 of this Convention, the Air Navigation Commission shall be composed of twelve members appointed by the Council from among persons nominated by contracting States; these persons shall have suitable qualifications and experience in the science and practice of aeronautics. The work of the air navigation and air transport divisions continued as such after April 1947.

 

The Air Navigation Commission was to replace the PICAO-created Air Navigation Committee; but the new Commission was not established in 1947 with the creation of ICAO, as the American argument was that PICAO’s Air Navigation Committee was working well and any change would disrupt the Organization’s work; moreover, whereas the existing Committee was under direct control of the Council members, the new ANC would be more independent. It was not until the Second Session of the Assembly (held in Geneva from 1 to 21 June 1948) that Resolution A2-8 recommended to proceed as may be feasible with the implementation of Articles 54(e) and 56 of the Convention and that the permanent ANC could enter into function in so far as practicable and legally permissible.

 

At the 4th Meeting of its 6th Session held on 1 February 1949, the ICAO Council adopted the following resolutions on the establishment of the Air Navigation Commission:

1.     An Air Navigation Commission of twelve members shall be established in accordance with the Council Resolution dated 5 October 1948.

2.    The Air Navigation Committee at its next meeting should consider and dispose all necessary business to facilitate the transfer of its functions to the Air Navigation Commission.

3.    Mr. W.J. Binaghi, Argentina, was appointed the first Chairman of the ANC.

 

The Air Navigation Commission came into operation on 7 February 1949. At the first meeting of the ANC on that date, three vacancies in the Commission remained to be filled. The first President of the ANC, Mr. W.J. Binaghi, Argentina, was annually re-elected in the capacity of ANC Chairman until he assumed the position of President of the Council in April 1957.

 

The number of members of the Air Navigation Commission was increased to:

1.     To fifteen members. The text of Article 56 of the Chicago Convention was amended by the 18th Session of the Assembly (held in Vienna) in 1971; it entered into force on 19 December 1974.

2.    To nineteen members. The text of Article 56 of the Chicago Convention was amended by the 27th Session of Assembly (held in Montreal) in 1989; it entered into force on 18 April 2005.

 

Donated by Mexico to ICAO in 1992, the bronze sculpture Vuelo, by Leonardo Nierman, is located in the center of the current ANC Chamber.

Ideas or proposals to amend the Annexes are discussed in a variety of meetings of expert panels, working and study groups (within their specific technical purview), regional meetings (for technical problems specific to a geographic region) and Air Navigation Conferences (for discussion of several interrelated technical issues), in conjunction with other international organizations (especially IATA), at the Assemblies, and in the permanent bodies of the Organization. The proposals then go to the ANC and ultimately are recommended to the Council, where they are approved or rejected. At ICAO, the consensus building is admirable and usually successful; however, it also implies that the implementation of some decisions is very time consuming.

 

In the fulfilment of its responsibilities, the ANC is assisted by the Air Navigation Bureau of the Secretariat. The rules and regulations that have governed the activities, conduct and operations of the ANC have continuously developed to keep in step with constant industry advancements, so as to reflect the rapidly evolving needs in the International Standards and Recommended Practices and to ensure the safety of passengers and goods, and the efficiency of the global air transport system.

 

In addition to the Commissioners, nine international Organizations have the status of Standing Observers to the ANC, without vote on ICAO decisions; they are:

1.     Airports Council International (ACI);

2.    Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO);

3.    Fédération aéronautique internationale (FAI);

4.    International Air Transport Association (IATA);

5.    International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations (IAOPA);

6.    International Business Aviation Council (IBAC);

7.    International Coordinating Council of Aerospace Industries Associations (ICCAIA);

8.    International Federation of Air Traffic Controller's Associations (IFACTA); and

9.    International Federation of Air Line Pilots Associations (IFALPA).

Some of these have their headquarters in Montréal, Canada to be closer physically to ICAO in order to represent their views, expertise, and interests to the Organization.

 

The Commissioners and some of the Standing Observers sit in the first circle of chairs in the ANC Chamber; the second circle of chairs is reserved for the other Standing Observers, Observers from various States, other international organizations and other participants at various meetings of the Commission. The Commissioners bear a pin showing a replica of the Vuelo artwork, located in the center of the ANC Chamber.

 

The Commission created, at the fourteenth meeting of its 148th Session on 18 June 1998, the ANC Laurel Award, to pay tribute to an individual or group for an outstanding contribution to the work of the ANC (through its panels, study groups, worldwide meetings, or any appropriate manner) and to furthering the safety, regularity and efficiency of international civil aviation. On 27 October 2009, the Air Navigation Commission decided to rename the ANC Laurel Award the ANC Walter Binaghi Laurel Award, in order to honour its first President. More information on this Award can be obtained by clicking on the following link: The Laurel Award.

 

The ANC at the end of 1950s.

 

 

 

Commercial cover sent to Mr. M. Agésilas, ANC Commissioner from France, who served from January 1959 to December 1964.

The French postmark is dated 7 December 1964, corresponding to the 20th anniversary of ICAO.

 

 

 

The ANC in the current building at 999 University Street, Montréal.

 

_________________________