Strategic Objective — Safety — Emergency Response

Policy and Standardization

Safety Monitoring


New and Emerging Activities

Emergency Response

Technical Cooperation and Assistance Projects (TCB)


Emergency Response


Risks to Civil Aviation Arising from Conflict Zones (MH17)


On 17 July, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17), a scheduled passenger flight, was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. The aircraft was operating at FL330 in the Dnipropetrovsk flight information region (FIR), above temporarily restricted areas. The flight disappeared from radar to the west of the radio navigation point TOMAK and communication with the crew was lost.


In response to this event, on 29 July ICAO hosted a special high-level meeting with the Directors General of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Airports Council International (ACI) and the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO). A joint statement expressed both the strong condemnation of the use of weapons against civil aviation and support for the establishment of a senior-level task force to address issues related to the safety and security of civil aircraft operating in airspace affected by conflict. The Task Force on Risks to Civil Aviation arising from Conflict Zones (TF RCZ) was subsequently established by the Secretary General.


The first two meetings of the TF RCZ, held in Montréal in August, resulted in the development of key objectives and a proposed work programme which was then endorsed by the Council in principle during its 203rd Session. The third and final meeting of the TF-RCZ was held in Montréal in early December.


The TF RCZ sought to determine, in particular, how relevant information regarding operations over or near conflict zones could be effectively collected and shared. A progress report on the development of an initial prototype of a centralized information capability to support the consolidation and exchange of available information in support of risk assessments for civil aircraft operating over or near conflict zones will be presented at the High-level Safety Conference (HLSC2015)


Global Flight Tracking (MH 370)


In response to the disappearance in March of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH 370, ICAO convened a multidisciplinary meeting regarding global aircraft flight tracking to bring stakeholders together and make recommendations to ensure that these types of events would not happen again. As an outcome of the meeting, two documents were produced in 2014, one which addresses a longer-term strategic aircraft tracking concept of operations (CONOPS) that includes search and rescue (SAR) activities, and another to address air operators’ short-term response for aircraft tracking. The CONOPS document, known as the Global Aeronautical Distress and Safety System (GADSS), will be used to guide aircraft tracking and SAR-related work in ICAO. The report of the Aircraft Tracking Task Force (ATTF), led by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), provides an array of equipment alternatives, using available technology, for air operators to choose from based on what best suits their operation. More information on the Multidisciplinary Meeting regarding Global Tracking can be found at


Concurrent to the activities mentioned above, amendment proposals for Annex 6 — Operation of Aircraft regarding flight tracking and the capability to locate an accident site within 6 NM have benefited from the GADSS CONOPS. Non-technology specific, performance-based provisions for normal and distress flight tracking are envisaged for circulation to States and international organizations for consultation in 2015.


Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) Outbreak


On 8 August, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Ebola Virus Disease outbreak in West Africa to be a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern” (PHEIC) and on 19 September, the United Nations Security Council described it as “threat to international peace and security”. ICAO was involved in the response from the outset, with its Chief of Aviation Medicine participating as an advisor to the WHO Ebola Emergency Committee that declared the outbreak a PHEIC. In addition, ICAO chaired and coordinated the Joint Ebola Travel and Transport Task Force, which included membership from WHO, International Maritime Organization (IMO), United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) , IATA, ACI, Cruise Lines International and the International Chamber of Shipping. It provided coordinated public statements on the Ebola situation as it affected the transport sector and reviewed newly developed transport-related public health documents.


A variety of other initiatives were taken:


  • ICAO signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the United Nations Development Programme on “Operational Aspects of the Ebola Response Multi-Partner Trust Fund”;
  • ICAO, with IATA and ACI, worked with the WHO and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to assist with the development of relevant aviation-related procedures, such as exit screening processes for travellers departing from the most affected States;
  • WHO and ICAO issued a joint State letter (AN5/29-14/67) addressed to the Ministers of Health and Ministers Responsible for Civil Aviation urging States to ensure that any measures imposing restrictions on travel or trade were commensurate with and restricted to reducing the public health risk;
  • an ICAO iSTARS/SPACE application for tracking Ebola-related NOTAMs was developed;
  • an Action Plan for States and international organizations was developed by ICAO to facilitate harmonized implementation of WHO recommendations relevant to the aviation sector;
  • joint ICAO/WHO assistance visits were provided to four West Africa States under the Collaborative Arrangement for the Prevention and Management of Public Health Events in Civil Aviation (CAPSCA);
  • ICAO attended the East African Community Ministerial Meeting on Ebola, held on 16-17 September, which resulted in a communiqué calling for States to avoid imposing restrictions on flights; and
  • the lifting of restrictions on flights by some States was facilitated by ICAO.


 In addition, voluntary funds to help support the CAPSCA programme were received from a number of States, being Angola, Switzerland, Thailand and the United Kingdom.


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