Emerging and Cross-cutting Aviation Issues — Innovation



In 2021, the ICAO Council established the ICAO-Industry Consultative Forum (ICF). The purpose of the ICF is to regularly provide strategic advice to the Council on innovation in aviation.


On 29 and 30 June 2021, the inaugural meeting of the ICF was held virtually with the participation of speakers from across various segments of the aviation industry, at the chief executive officer level.


Speakers conducted a horizon scanning of high-level priorities in the industry and explored three main themes: a) the COVID-19 recovery as the most pressing challenge in aviation; b) environmental sustainability and climate change as an existential threat for the aviation sector; and c) the increased digitization of the sector and resulting cybersecurity challenges. In addition, the wider topic of air traffic management was at the core of many interventions, including from the perspective of its modernization and the expected increase in interactions with urban air mobility solutions and space operations. At the centre of discussions on the COVID-19 response and possible impacts of climate change was an urgent call for a more resilient aviation sector.


In parallel, the Council agreed on the establishment of a Small Group on Innovation (SGI) for “the purpose of developing guidance on how the Organization should proceed with the next steps in addressing innovation, including inputs from the ANC and the identification of gaps and mitigation measures”. The work of the SGI has encompassed a number of aspects in addition to the strategic dialogue initiated with high-level industry representatives in the context of the ICF.


The SGI has identified four dimensions of innovation that require further actions by the Organization:


  • ICAO’s interactions with innovators;

  • the incorporation of innovations in ICAO Standards in a timely fashion;

  • the review of ICAO’s Standard-making procedures; and

  • the Secretariat’s adoption of technologies and adaptation of its internal processes.


Innovation has become an integral part of ICAO’s work across its Bureaus and Offices through the adoption of new and forward-thinking approaches and processes and the engagement of ICAO’s technical experts with the innovation community. However, more efforts are needed to promote a culture of innovation under the One ICAO vision, create synergies among and within ICAO’s Bureaus, foster support in innovation across the Organization, transform the way in which ICAO approaches innovation, and contribute to a vibrant innovation ecosystem consistent with the Organization’s mandate.


To this end, a group of innovation focal points has been established within the ICAO Secretariat at its headquarters and Regional Offices. The primary objective of this group is to create opportunities to facilitate the innovation community’s understanding of ICAO’s role, and encourage ICAO Member States to create a suitable regulatory environment for innovators to develop their products and services.

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