ICAO Council adopts new international aviation Standards and Recommended Practices for remotely piloted aircraft systems

​Montréal, 5 April 2024 – New aviation Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) adopted at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) will enhance safety and accelerate the transformation of the global air navigation system, including the integration of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS). 

“The sustainable development of aviation worldwide requires a performance-driven and service-oriented advanced global air navigation system. Today we have taken significant steps towards achieving this,” stated the President of the ICAO Council, Salvatore Sciacchitano. 

The Council of ICAO approved amendments to 15 of the 19 Annexes to the Convention on International Civil Aviation, and approved a new “Procedure for Air Navigation Services (PANS) on Information Management” during its recently concluded 231st Session. 

Integrating RPAS 

With the Council’s adoption of the new Part IV International Operations — Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems to Annex 6 – Operation of Aircraft, the basic building blocks for a regulatory framework to enable the international operation of RPAS are now in place. 

RPAS operators will be required to hold a specific operator certificate (ROC), akin to the traditional air operator certificate (AOC). This is a considerable step towards integration of RPAS into the  aviation system. 

The Council previously agreed to the regulatory structure for the issuance of remote pilot licences, RPAS-specific airworthiness requirements, and provisions for C2 Links frequency bands, procedures and systems. 

Together, these provisions satisfy three key requirements for international air navigation: a remote pilot licence, a certificate of airworthiness, and an RPAS operator certificate. 

Transforming air navigation 

“A sustainable future for air navigation depends on further enhancements to the accuracy and consistency of flight information,” remarked ICAO Secretary General, Juan Carlos Salazar. “These new ICAO Standards are pivotal to progress towards this goal, as they provide for system-wide information services that prioritize quality and secure data exchanges.” 

The new Standards decrease the risk of the provision of inaccurate or incomplete information to Air Traffic Management (ATM) service providers and operators. The enhanced information sharing enabled by these Standards will also facilitate the optimization of air routes and networks, contributing to a reduction in aviation CO2 emissions. 

One of the key advancements is towards the implementation of the “Flight and Flow — Information for a Collaborative Environment” (FF-ICE) concept. The goal is to establish a fully collaborative environment that enables the sharing and optimization of flight trajectories at every stage of flight. Designed for flexibility, the FF-ICE concept allows for phased and incremental implementation, covering a range of operational needs and timelines across different nations and regions. 

ICAO also tackled the safety issue created by multiple aircraft being assigned identical 24-bit aircraft addresses, which has led in the past to inaccurate aircraft information in air-ground and air-air surveillance systems. 

Moreover, the Council has updated Standards for helicopter chart development for performance-based navigation, enhancing the safety of helicopter operations. 

Aviation accident and incident data 

Enhancing data gathering and sharing is crucial for the aviation community, not only to prevent accidents and incidents, but also to respond effectively when such events occur. 

Key among the new Standards adopted by the Council are those that complete the Global Aeronautical Distress and Safety System (GADSS)

Developed as part of the response to the loss of flights AF 447 in 2009 and MH 370 in 2014, GADSS requires enhancements to aircraft tracking and distress systems. 

Expansion of the Flight Data Analysis Programme (FDAP) now ensures that most large commercial air transport aeroplanes are included. The broader scope of safety data collection aims to identify precursor events and facilitate proactive safety management. 

New investigation Standards will require accident investigation authorities to inform the public about progress earlier and more frequently, ultimately providing the final report in an electronic format to ICAO for improved access and data analysis. 

Crucially, the Council also decided to enhance current search and rescue (SAR) SARPs to expedite response times, facilitate assistance from other States during operations, reduce risks to personnel at accident sites, and provide better information to rescue coordination centres. 

Resources for Editors 


The ICAO Council 

List of new Standards and Recommended Practices  

  • Annex 1 – Personnel Licensing, Amendment 179 
  • Annex 2 – Rules of the Air, Amendment 48 
  • Annex 3 – Meteorological Service for International Air Navigation, Amendment 81 
  • Annex 4 — Aeronautical Charts, Amendment 62 
  • Annex 6 – Operation of Aircraft, Part I – International Commercial Air Transport – Aeroplanes, Amendment 49 
  • Annex 6, Part II – International General Aviation – Aeroplanes, Amendment 41 
  • Annex 6, Part III – International Operations – Helicopters, Amendment 25 
  • New Annex 6, Part IV – International Operations — Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems 
  • Annex 8 – Airworthiness of Aircraft, Amendment 110 
  • Annex 10 — Aeronautical Telecommunications, Volume II — Communication Procedures including those with PANS status, Amendment 93 
  • Annex 10, Volume III — Communication Systems, Amendment 92 
  • Annex 11 — Air Traffic Services, Amendment 53 
  • Annex 12 — Search and Rescue, Amendment 19 
  • Annex 13 — Aircraft Accident and Incident Investigation, Amendment 19 
  • Annex 15 — Aeronautical Information Services, Amendment 43 
  • New Procedures for Air Navigation Services — Information Management (PANS-IM, DOC 10199) 

About ICAO 

A specialized agency of the United Nations, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) leads the international alignment of technical standards and strategies, facilitating the safe, secure, and sustainable development of its 193 member states’ aviation sectors and air services. This year, ICAO is celebrating the 80th anniversary of its establishment by the 1944 Convention on International Civil Aviation. 

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