ECAC – European Civil Aviation Conference



A European air transport body was first envisaged when the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe (Conseil de l’Europe) considered, in 1951, certain proposals submitted to it with a view to achieving the greatest possible degree of co-ordination in inter-European air transport. The Consultative Assembly at that time recommended to its Committee of Ministers that a conference of governmental experts and of representatives of the various European air companies be immediately convened.

The Committee of Ministers, however, decided not to convene such a conference, but instead agreed that ICAO, as the most appropriate body, should be invited to undertake the task. This decision was embodied in a resolution adopted on 19 March 1953, inviting ICAO to convene a European conference.

The Council of ICAO, in response to the invitation of the Council of Europe, adopted in May 1953 a resolution expressing ICAO's desire to co-operate with the Council of Europe to the fullest extent practicable, but suggesting that, before a full-scale conference was actually convened, a preparatory committee should be established in order to ensure that ICAO's role would be clear and effective and to determine clearly the issues involved.

ECAC Early lapel pin

The Preparatory Committee consisting of nine States met in Paris in November 1953 and, having carried out the tasks assigned to it by its terms of reference, reported to ICAO that it had reached unanimous agreement on an agenda for the plenary conference, which, it suggested, should be convened in the spring of 1954.

Postal slogan of the CATE

The Conference on Co-ordination of Air Transport in Europe (CATE), formally constituted by ICAO in December 1953, met in Strasbourg from 21 April to 8 May 1954, with the participation of civil aviation officials from 17 European states. The opening meeting of the Conference was convened in the Assembly Chamber of the Council of Europe, Strasbourg on 21 April 1954, by Dr. Edward Warner, President of the Council of ICAO, in the presence of Mr Léon Marchal, Secretary General of the Council of Europe. As many of the recommendations being adopted at the meeting would require follow-up action by some duly authorized and competent body operating in close liaison with ICAO, the meeting proposed the establishment of a permanent European organization of high-level aviation authorities to implement its recommendations and to carry out the work it had initiated. This proposal envisaged a body that would meet periodically and that would at least at the outset, be serviced by the ICAO Secretariat. It went on to recommend that this body that, it suggested, might be named the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC) or Conférence européenne de l'aviation civile (CEAC), should maintain the closest liaison with ICAO as well as with other interested organizations.

A number of other CATE recommendations called upon ICAO to assume the responsibility of initiating studies on certain problems. These recommendations were considered by the ICAO Council, which agreed to call the first meeting of the proposed European Civil Aviation Conference.



Strasbourg - Conference on Co-ordination of Air Transport in Europe (CATE)

21 April to 8 May 1954


First Sessions

ECAC current logo

ECAC held its inaugural session in Strasbourg, France from 29 November to 16 December 1955, at which its 19 Founding States participated. The session established a Constitutional Commission which considered the formal establishment and status of the Conference as it is usually called, its Rules of Procedure and its relationship with ICAO as well as with those European governmental and non-governmental agencies whose task might be closely associated with that of ECAC. The Conference had, at that time, requested the services of the ICAO Secretariat instead of establishing one of its own. Between meetings of the Conference, its President would continue to hold office and perform necessary co-ordination functions. This first meeting of the Conference was notable for the fact that, for the first time in history of ICAO, it was possible to reach general accord on a multilateral agreement covering an aspect of commercial rights in international aviation, the text of such agreement, dealing with intra-European non-scheduled operations only, having been agreed to unanimously by the Conference.

ECAC held its second regular session in Madrid from 25 April to 10 May 1957. Some technical matters such as European cooperation in aircraft maintenance and in the basic training of flight and ground personnel were considered, but the meeting was primarily an air transport one, with emphasis on Facilitation, commercial rights for scheduled and non-scheduled services, and problems arising in connection with the international interchange of aircraft. The Conference considered a variety of proposals concerning the action to be taken to achieve a multilateral agreement on commercial rights for scheduled services in Europe.

ECAC held its third plenary session in Strasbourg from 9 to 21 March 1959. The Conference adopted forty-six recommendations and resolutions setting up a substantial work programme to be carried out before the following session. There were a few technical items concerned mainly with cooperation in aircraft maintenance and the training of air and ground personnel, but in the main the work of ECAC felt in the air transport field. The most important action of the Conference was the establishment of a Standing Committee on Coordination and Liberalization, which was to hold short informal meetings about twice a year to consider what measures might be taken by governments to liberalize European air transport and encourage cooperation between European airlines.

Since the installation of the Council’s Secretariat in 1949, the official mail and that of the participants in the sessions was franked with regular French postage stamps. The first series of real service stamps of the Council of Europe, showing the twelve stars of the European flag (8Fr, 20Fr and 35Fr), was issued in October 1958. Over the years, new series of service stamps were put on sale. The flag of the Council of Europe was selected on 8 December 1955 without taking account of the number of Member States. It includes, on a blue back of the sky of the Occident, the stars showing the people of Europe forming a circle as a sign of union. These stars are in an invariable number of twelve, symbols of the perfection and plenitude. Council of Europe Official stamps can only be used for postage on mail sent from the post office in the Council of Europe building in Strasbourg, France.





Strasbourg - Third Session of European Civil Aviation Conference

9 to 21 March 1959


Fourth Session

The fourth plenary session of the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC) was convened in Strasbourg, France from 4 to 20 July 1961. The Conference adopted fifty-one recommendations and resolutions, establishing a substantial work programme to be carried out before the following plenary session. As in the past, the work of the Conference laid mainly in the air transport field, although the agenda also contained a number of technical items concerned principally with cooperation in aircraft maintenance and in the training of flight and ground personnel, uniformity in the flight testing of navigational and landing aids. The most important matter before the Session was the “Statement of Principles and Methods for the Advancement of Co-operation and Liberalization in relation to Intra-European Air Services for Transport of Passengers, Cargo and Mail”, a set of principles formulated by the Committee on Co-ordination and Liberalization under its general mandate from the Conference in 1959 to study measures aimed at improving the economy of European air transport.






Strasbourg - Fourth Session of European Civil Aviation Conference

4 to 20 July 1961


Fifth Session

ICAO provided secretariat service for the fifth plenary session of the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC), held in Strasbourg, France from 6 to 21 July 1964. Among the economic matters considered by the Conference were the general development of air transport in Europe and a number of studies on such subjects as the effect of the introduction of jet aircraft in Europe, non-scheduled operations and inclusive tours, and all-freight services. Were also considered technical matters such as the standardization of training curricula for flight and ground personnel, the development of specifications for aircraft de-icing equipment, the standardization of procedures for the issue of certificates of airworthiness for export, and the standardization of airborne navigation and communication equipment.






Strasbourg - Fifth Session of European Civil Aviation Conference

6 to 21 July 1964


Acting as a medium for practical co-operation between all European States in promoting the safe and orderly development of European civil aviation, ECAC's mission is the promotion of the continued development of a safe, efficient and sustainable European air transport system. ECAC celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2005 and was composed of 44 Member States in 2011. Since its inception, ECAC has established a close and beneficial relationship with ICAO on air transport issues of common concern which has furthered the universal aims and objectives of the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation of 1944. ECAC’s headquarters are located in the same building as the Paris-based European and North Atlantic (EUR/NAT) Office of ICAO. ECAC maintains close relationship with the other Civil Aviation Commissions, i.e. the African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC), the Arab Civil Aviation Commission (ACAC), and the Latin American Civil Aviation Commission (LACAC).


Service cover sent from ECAC to ICAO Headquarters – Postmarked 22 November 1973