Monday, 20 February, marks the second anniversary of International Day Commemorating Air Crash Victims and Their Families.
In 1998, during the 32nd ICAO Assembly (A32), the subject of assistance to aircraft accident victims and their families was considered. Participants acknowledged that the policy of ICAO should be to ensure that the mental, physical, and spiritual well-being of victims involved in civil aviation accidents and their families are considered and accommodated by the Organization and its Member States. Following discussions, Resolution A32-7 urged the ICAO Council to develop guidance material, citing the need to establish regulations and programmes by Contracting States and their air operators to support aircraft accident victims and their families.
ICAO first issued guidance on family assistance in 2001, and in 2013, it published the ICAO Policy on Assistance to Aircraft Accident Victims and their Families and an accompanying manual. The topic was also formally acknowledged by States at consecutive ICAO Assemblies in 2013 and 2016 and considered by a special session of the 13th ICAO Air Navigation Conference in 2018.
In 2021, the ICAO Council held a further meeting with the Air Crash Victims' Families' Federation International (ACVFFI). The ICAO Facilitation Panel subsequently recommended that associated priorities be enshrined in a full ICAO Standard to ensure stronger international compliance and alignment.
In addition to the Symposium ICAO conducted in December 2021, the ICAO Council adopted Amendment 29 to ICAO Annex 9 — Facilitation which has elevated Recommended Practice 8.46 to Standard 8.47, thus obliging States to establish legislation, regulations, and policies in support of assistance to aircraft accident victims and their families.
Apart from work already undertaken through ICAO to address the needs of aircraft accident victims and their families through policies and recommended practices, ICAO has also developed a training course to help countries set out appropriate family assistance legislation, regulations, and plans.