Australia's Contribution to ICAO
by Roger Meyer and Vicki Huggins
On 7 December 1994 the world celebrated the 50th anniversary of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), one of the most successful of the worlds international institutions. Australia has always played a leading role in ICAO and this article highlights Australias past and present contributions.
It soon became clear that there was a need for uniform, universal regulations. The Paris Air Convention of 1919 established the International Commission for Air Navigation (ICAN), which provided for the collection and exchange of information among ICANs member States.
following 20 years, international air traffic expanded rapidly, first
in Europe whose short international distances were within the range
of aircraft of the 1920s. The beginning of a Carribean air service by
the fledgling Pan American Airways in 1928 created a need for international
co-operation on air transport matters in the Western Hemisphere. This
led to the Havana Convention, which was ratified by the USA and ten
other American Republics.
Eventually, the Chicago Conference was held at the invitation of the United States, and was attended by 52 of the 54 invited allied and neutral countries. The conference began on 1 November 1944 in the Stevens Hotel, Chicago, and was attended by 700 participants. It was scheduled to last 25 days, but finally concluded after 37 days, on 7 December.
The Australian contingent comprised:
The deliberations of the delegates resulted in the adoption of a number of resolutions and recommendations constituting the Final Act of the Conference. Briefly, these were:
The Convention on International Civil Aviation, which needed to be formally ratified by 26 member States to come into force. This was accomplished in just two years and the Convention is now adhered to by 182 States, making it the most widely accepted of all such international agreements. It laid down principles and arrangements "in order that international civil aviation may be developed in a safe and orderly manner and that international air transport services may be established on the basis of equality of opportunity and operated soundly and economically".
An Interim Agreement on International Civil Aviation which provided a bridging mechanism to permit an early beginning of the global effort while awaiting formal ratification of the Convention. It came into effect on 6 June, 1945 upon its acceptance by 26 States. Thus, the Provisional International Civil Aviation Organization (PICAO) was born. It functioned remarkably well until the permanent organization, ICAO, came into being.
The International Air Services Transit Agreement, commonly known as the Two Freedoms agreement gave the accepting States free and unlimited right of passage for the aircraft of each State through the airspace of every other, and gave their aircraft a general right to interrupt their passage for non-traffic purposes (for refuelling or mechanical attention to the aircraft).
The International Air Transport Agreement, commonly known as the Five Freedoms of the Air', was a convenient means for classifying rights which one country might give to the aircraft of another over its territory. Specifically, they were the right of an aircraft of one state to:
It will be noticed that the first two of these Freedoms are the substance of The International Air Services Transit Agreement. The Fifth Freedom was the cause of major controversy. The United States consistently maintained the necessity of complete freedom of operation for commercial air service, while the United Kingdom, supported by New Zealand and Australia, proposed international regulation.
These and other issues were referred for further study by PICAO which was to be established in Canada. It was agreed by member States that PICAO would remain in operation until a new permanent convention, ICAO, came into force - a period not exceeding three years.
Two weeks later, a Canadian Preparatory Committee swung into action with office accommodations at Dominion Square in Montreal. The first Council Meeting was held on 15 August 1945, the day after World War II hostilities had effectively ended. The meeting elected Dr Edward Warner (United States) as Council President and Dr Albert Roper (France) as Secretary General. Australias representative was Mr A.R. McComb, who at the time was Director of Airports with DCA.
The general structure of PICAO was that it was to remain in operation until a new permanent convention on civil aviation came into force - a period not exceeding three years. The governing bodies of the Organization were the Interim Assembly and Interim Council.
The Assembly was composed of delegates from Member States, and was convened by the Council. It met annually. It elected its own President and other officers, and elected Member States to be represented on the Council. The Assembly was responsible for the financial arrangements of the Organization, and acted on matters referred to it by the Council.
The Council was the executive instrument of the Organization and derived its powers and authority from the Assembly.
The Interim Council quickly got to work and began addressing the numerous administrative matters facing a new international organization. But the Council never lost sight of the critical and immediate need to begin facilitating international air transport in all its aspects. This was, after all, its post-war mission.
Since the end of the Chicago Conference, States had been submitting their recommendations for additions, deletions and amendments to the 12 initial Annexes to the Chicago Convention. Thus, substantial groundwork had already been laid for the technical sub-committee work of the PICAO Council. The emphasis was on arrangements for the provision of adequate air navigation facilities and for setting up air safety standards. Two principal committees of the Council were thus formed: the Air Navigation Committee and the Air Transport Committee. In addition, a special Radio Technical Division was convened to appraise wartime communications and navigational devices and technologies that might be adaptable to civil needs.
Australias Mr A.R. McComb was elected Chairman of the Air Navigation Committee, while Mr A.G. Berg, DCAs Superintendent of Airworthiness was elected Chairman of the first session of the Airworthiness Division. Thus began the tradition of Australias significant involvement in, and contribution to, the workings of ICAO.
The First (and only) Session of the Interim Assembly met in Montreal from 21 May to 7 June 1946. All 44 member States were represented, with 10 Observers from non-member States. The Australian delegation was:
ICAO has a sovereign body, the Assembly, and a governing body, the Council.
The Assembly meets at least once in three years and is convened by the Council. At this session the complete work of the Organization in the technical, economic, legal and technical assistance fields is reviewed in detail and guidance given to the other bodies of ICAO for their future work. The first Assembly Meeting was convened in Montreal on 6 May, 1947. The Australian Delegation was lead by the Minister for Civil Aviation, the Hon. A.S. Drakeford, who was later unanimously elected as President of the Assembly. The Assistant Director-General, Captain E.C. Johnston was Deputy Leader and the other delegates were Mr A.R. McComb and Mr D. Ross.
The Council is a permanent body responsible to the Assembly and is composed of 27 contracting States elected by the Assembly for a three-year term. Australia has always been represented on the Council as one of the "States of chief importance in air transport". The Council, together with its specialist sections the Air Navigation Commission, the Air Transport Committee, the Committee on Joint Support of Air Navigation Services, and the Finance Committee provides the continuing direction of the work at ICAO. One of the major duties of the Council is to adopt international Standards And Recommended Practices (SARPs) for aviation. One of the strengths of the Council has been its stability and continuity by virtue of there having been just three Presidents: Dr Edward Warner (1947-1957); Dr Walter Binaghi (1957-1976); and Dr Assad Kotataite (1976 to the present).
Australian Council representatives in the early days included Roland McComb, Dr Bill Bradfield (1947-1952 and 1968-1972), Byron Lewis (1972-1975), Jim Stone (1952-1956, and 1965-1968), David Medley, Jack Fogarty, Reg Gross (1975-1981), George Birch (1981-1984), Jack Sansom (1984-1988), Bruce Weedon and Jim Webber.
The Air Navigation Commission (ANC) exists to secure the highest degree of uniformity in regulations, standards and procedures which will facilitate and improve air navigation to international standards. The Commission comprises up to 15 persons nominated by member States and appointed by the Council. They are chosen on their technical competence, and act as individuals, not representatives of their Country. Australian Nominees to the Commission have included Max Edey, Len Jacobe, (both elected President), Kel Arnold, Jack Sansom, Derek Jordon, Howard Cronin, John Cappeletti and Matt Wilkes (also elected President).
AIR NAVIGATION MEETINGS
The object of the meeting was to develop a regional plan detailing facilities, services and procedures required for international air navigation within the Region. Among the agreements were the sites of additional aerodromes, runway approach lighting, point-to-point and air-to-ground radio communications networks, a weather reporting network, new Flight Information Regions and a Search and Rescue organisation.
UP AUSTRALIA'S CONTRIBUTION
Perhaps Australias contribution is best summed up by one long-serving representative who simply expressed Australias unique contribution thus: "Australia, whatever the discussion, caused small countries to be given the same weight as the big countries".
EDWARD WARNER AWARDS|
Even a brief account of Australias contribution to ICAO would be incomplete without reference to the Departments two recipients of ICAOs prestigious Edward Warner award for outstanding contributions to the organisation.
The 25th Award in 1992 was conferred on Dr K.N.E. Bradfield OBE "in recognition of his eminent contribution to the development and provision of the technical and operational requirements of the ground-based infrastructure of international civil aviation. He applied himself with dedication and meticulous attention to detail through his long career in civil aviation, contributing to the design and development of aerodromes, ground aids and facilities".
The 37th Award was presented in 2004 to Professor Brian O'Keeffe AO "in recognition of his eminent contribution to the development of international civil aviation, in particular his leading role in the field of air navigation systems."
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