Message from the President of the Council of ICAO, Dr. Assad Kotaite

World Radiocommunication Conference (2000)
Istanbul, Turkey, 8 May - 2 June 2000



I welcome the opportunity to reiterate to this International Telecommunication Union (ITU) World Radiocommunication Conference (2000) the position of the 185 Contracting States of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and of all members of the international civil aviation community concerning the protection of the aeronautical spectrum.
It is crucial that all delegates fully grasp the urgency of preserving intact the availability of well-protected radio frequencies for the aviation sector. Simply put, it is the only way that we can maintain the safety of civil aviation and safety is an absolute prerequisite for continued growth of the global air transport industry in the 21st century.
For the past 50 years or more, air transport has been a catalyst for economic growth in virtually every part of the world. Last year alone, some 1.5 billion passengers flew on 22 million flights, carried by 15,000 aircraft on scheduled services. More than one third of manufactured goods by value were shipped by air. In ten years time, those figures could reach 2.3 billion passengers, 30 million flights, 22,000 aircraft and 40 per cent of manufactured goods.
A healthy and growing air transport system clearly benefits everyone. It creates and supports, directly or indirectly, hundreds of millions of jobs worldwide. It is an integral component of the economic lifeline in many countries. Beyond economics, air transport also enriches the social and cultural fabric of society and contributes to the attainment of peace and prosperity throughout the world.
If we want air transport to continue providing these essential benefits in the future, then we must put into place the air navigation systems that will make it possible for us to manage congested airports and congested airspace without sacrificing safety. We must emphasize safety. There can be no real, sustained growth of the air transport industry without first ensuring safety in the sky. Public confidence in the safety of air travel is a sine qua non condition for them to fly.
The air navigation systems of the future that will provide both safety and efficiency are known as CNS/ATM systems. This acronym stands for communications, navigation, surveillance and air traffic management. A primary feature of CNS/ATM systems is that they are highly dependent on radio communications for optimum operational efficiency. In other words, they require continued interference-free accessibility to the radio frequency spectrum which supports safety-of-life applications.
This is why ICAO has been quite concerned by the tendency at recent ITU conferences to reduce the availability of spectrum for aeronautical communication and radio navigation systems. As President of the Council of ICAO, another world regulatory body, I understand only too well your position of having to reconcile sometimes divergent needs in regulating spectrum allocations. Nevertheless, I urge you not to underestimate the negative consequences of any reallocation of the spectrum that is currently being used for international civil aviation or intended to support its future growth.
From the very beginning, civil aviation has been highly dependent on radio telecommunications. As I have shown, this dependency will inevitably grow in the years to come, as modern aeronautical radio communication and navigation systems are implemented in support of increased safety and efficiency of air transport.
The following three elements will require particular attention:
  1. long-term availability of the frequency bands necessary for satellite navigation, in particular the band already used for operations of the global navigation satellite system (GNSS);
  2. guaranteed access to the frequency bands for aeronautical satellite communication systems; and
  3. compatibility between any new allocations and the existing utilization of the radio frequency spectrum by aviation.
There is no doubt in my mind that if the availability of frequency spectrum required by civil aviation is compromised by sharing it with non-aeronautical users, both safety and efficiency of air transport will be threatened.
ICAO has regularly promoted civil aviation’s views at periodic conferences of the ITU. The ICAO position, presented in document 4 at this Conference, is fully supported by international aviation organizations and endorsed by all 185 Contracting States of ICAO. I trust that these efforts have contributed to a better understanding of the need to protect the aeronautical spectrum.
Ladies and gentlemen, in your deliberations at this Conference, I invite you to fully consider the enormous and long-lasting benefits of air transport to the well-being of nations and citizens of the world. My firm belief that the only conclusion one can come to is that the availability of well-protected radio frequencies is essential to safe, regular, efficient and growing global air transport.
In so deciding, you will be contributing to the three fundamental objectives of air transport:
  • maintain and enhance the extraordinary record of international civil aviation as the safest mode of mass transportation ever created;
  • support the consistent and dramatic growth of air transport in this decade and beyond;
  • preserve the substantial, permanent and increasing economic benefits of aviation to the world’s economies.


On behalf of the 185 Contracting States of ICAO and of all members of the world aviation community, I thank you for integrating these views into your deliberations. The ICAO Observer Delegation is at your disposal throughout the Conference for reviewing any aspect of this most important question.
I wish all delegates a most productive meeting.


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