Emergency Response Planning

​Aviation provides the only worldwide rapid transportation network to move passengers and cargo around the world. It connects people, cultures and businesses across continents and generates economic growth, creates jobs and facilitates international trade and tourism. It has weathered crises and has become an indispensable means of transport enabling global economies and societies to thrive. 

Aviation is a sensitive industry, which requires careful and meticulous planned operations, because any direct or indirect disruption could have significant and far-reaching adverse impacts. Such disruptions can stem from an aircraft, airport and air navigations emergencies, natural disasters or other causes, including public health crises, and the impacts include significant financial, environmental, social and/or material damage, which may have a spill-over effect to inter-connected industries such as tourism and trade.

Appropriate immediate and coordinated actions in response to emergencies and disruptions can significantly mitigate the severity of their impacts. It is therefore critical that stakeholders involved in air transport operations have in place emergency response and contingency plans (ERP) to ensure a rapid response and swift restoration and return to operations. An ERP is a comprehensive, operational-level document outlining specific roles,  set of actions and timeframes to respond to unexpected situations, disruptions or potential disruptions.

In addition to emergency response and contingency plans, operators are encouraged to develop business continuity plans (BCP), which go beyond the immediate mitigation plans for unplanned incidents. The objective of BCPs is to build and improve organizational resilience and the capability to recover quickly and effectively from any local, regional or global disruption.

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), in its capacity to develop Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) for the safety, efficiency and regularity of international civil aviation, has published specific SARPs to address the necessity and importance of emergency response planning and coordination for various stakeholders of the aviation system. Other international organizations, including Airports Council International (ACI), International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the Civil Air Navigation Services Organization (CANSO), have also published documents and manuals with guidance and best practices to support their respective stakeholders in establishing emergency response and contingency plans. 

In light of the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to build a stronger and more resilient civil aviation system, ICAO has resolved to develop a dedicated compendium on States' best practices in emergency and contingency response planning in case of aviation system disruptions.

In accordance with Recommendation 11 of the Report of the ICAO Council Aviation Recovery Task Force (CART), Members should facilitate information-sharing and exchange on their actions and best practices. Through this information, ICAO will be able to provide appropriate, targeted and timely guidance, training and assistance to Member States in their endeavours to recover from crises and adequately prepare their aviation industries for future emergencies.

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