Second ICAO NGAP Summit in Shenzhen spotlights future skilled workforce challenges for global aviation

​ICAO Secretary General Dr. Fang Liu addresses a wide cross-section of professionals and leaders at ICAO’s Second Next General of Aviation Professionals (NGAP/2) Global Summit in Shenzhen last week. Over 1000 industry, government and academic participants from all regions of the world converged at the event, where they discussed strategies to ensure that sufficiently qualified and competent aviation professionals are available to operate, manage and maintain the future air transport system.

Montréal and Shenzhen, 18 December 2018 – Strategies to ensure that sufficient numbers of competent aviation professionals are available to operate, manage and maintain the global air transport system in the coming decades received a major boost last week, with new agreements and initiatives being forged during ICAO’s Second Next General of Aviation Professionals (NGAP/2) Global Summit, hosted by the Shenzhen Municipal People's Government of Guangdong Province, the Chinese Society of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and Beihang University.


“ICAO’s numbers have revealed that no less than 620,000 pilots will be needed by 2036 to fly the world’s 100-seat-and-larger aircraft,” declared ICAO Secretary General Dr. Fang Liu in her opening remarks to the more than 1000 Summit participants and high-level officials present, “but even more important than this figure is the fact that 80 percent of these future aviators will be new entrants to this profession who are not yet flying today.” 


Recognizing that a similar story is playing out with respect to the future air traffic controllers, maintenance personnel and other technicians needed, Dr. Liu stressed that “these are just some of the literally hundreds of direct and indirect aviation career categories which will potentially be impacted.”


The Secretary General further noted that nearly 55 percent of the world’s 1.3 billion international travellers arrive at their destinations in aircraft today, a crucial contribution which when combined with aviation’s many other socio-economic benefits illustrates why air transport is regarded as a veritable lifeline for States’ economic growth and development.


“Of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals now being pursued by governments as part of Agenda 2030, focused on poverty reduction, environmental stewardship, gender parity, educational access, and many other noble socio-economic aims, fully 15 are directly and positively impacted by these States’ dependable access to ICAO-compliant international aviation,” Dr. Liu emphasized.


Participants to the NGAP/2 Summit hailed from 32 countries and were comprised primarily of professionals and leaders representing industry, governmental and non-governmental organizations, and academia. Also in attendance were almost 200 students to take part in the Model ICAO Forum held in parallel.


Highlighting the progress being achieved toward previous calls to action raised at last year’s inaugural NGAP Summit, ICAO announced the expansion of its NGAP Programme and a new initiative to support young researchers and innovators.


“It is very important that ICAO maintains this NGAP momentum, and just as important that we elevate the scope of these challenges to the global level,” the Secretary General underscored.


The Model ICAO Forum conducted by ICAO adjacent to the Summit saw some 180 students participating in discussions on pre-agreed civil aviation topics prepared by ICAO technical experts. Co-hosted by the main Summit support partners, the Forum provided a unique opportunity to raise university-level awareness on the role of ICAO on the international stage, and the challenges associated with forging global consensus on critical air transport issues.


On the sidelines of the 2018 NGAP Summit, a range of agreements were also forged between ICAO and some key partners present. These included a new intent to cooperate with Airbus more meaningfully toward both NGAP-related but also other objectives, a Training Services Agreement with the Shenzhen Airport Group, an MOU with Turkey regarding future cooperation on analytics and data visualization for aviation, and lastly a project agreed with Beihang University focused on NGAP capacity-building, aviation data, and cyber safety and security.


A further agreement was also forged in Shenzhen among Summit participants, with several attending universities agreeing to encourage the sustainable establishment of a new International Association of Aviation and Aerospace Education (Alicanto).


In concluding her keynote Summit remarks, Dr. Liu thanked the hosts for their very generous contributions to the success of the event, noting as well that their significant support highlighted how aviation’s workforce challenges can serve as key opportunities for universities and the best and brightest now being prepared in them for future careers.


“This is such a very exciting time in the history of aviation, and a just-as-exciting moment for those of us involved in finding new ways to assure a dedicated and qualified Next Generation of Aviation Professionals,” she said.


While in China, Dr Liu was pleased to meet with the Shenzhen municipal authorities. Also on hand for these meetings were Ms. Lydia Chikunga, Deputy Minister of Transport for South Africa; Ms. Poppy Khoza, Director of Civil Aviation, CAA, South Africa; H.M.C. Nimalsiri, Director General of Civil Aviation for Sri Lanka; Mr. Sergey Gudkov, Representative of The Russian Federation to the ICAO Council; and Mr. Martin Vidal, Representative of Uruguay to the ICAO Council and Uruguay Ambassador to Canada.


She also held a series of bilateral meetings on current ICAO and air transport sector priorities with Mr. Jian Li, Deputy Administrator of the Civil Aviation Administration of China, who was accompanied by his Directors for Foreign Affairs and Human Resources. 


Dr. Liu also had an opportunity to meet officials from Beihang University, including Ms. Shumin Cao, Chairman of the University Council, and Mr. Huang Haijun, the school’s Vice-President. She later toured some local Shenzhen manufacturers and shippers, meeting at the same time with senior officials from Huawei, Tencent, DJI, and SF Express.


ICAO officials accompanying Dr. Liu in Shenzhen included Mr. Arun Mishra, ICAO Regional Director, Asia-Pacific; Mr. Jiefang Huang, Director of ICAO’s Legal Affairs and External Relations Bureau; Mr. Henry Gourdji, ICAO Head for Strategic Planning, Coordination and Partnerships; Ms. Jiarong Yan, Director of the Office of the Secretary General; Mr. Catalin Radu, ICAO Deputy Director for Aviation Safety; and Mr. James Wan, ICAO Deputy Director, Information Management and General Administration. 



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A specialized agency of the United Nations, ICAO was created in 1944 to promote the safe and orderly development of international civil aviation throughout the world. It sets standards and regulations necessary for aviation safety, security, efficiency, capacity and environmental protection, amongst many other priorities. The Organization serves as the forum for cooperation in all fields of civil aviation among its 192 Member States.

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