Dr. Fang Liu, ICAO Secretary General has affirmed the need for responsive regulatory frameworks to support the safe integration of unmanned air traffic innovations into the global aviation network.
Dr. Liu who spoke at ICAO’s Unmanned Aviation Week states: “Worldwide, RPAS and UAS technologies and operations have been evolving rapidly in recent years, spurring thousands of new entrants to the aviation sector and a multitude of new products and services requiring incorporation into the global aviation framework.”
Acknowledging the new opportunities that this transformation offers, Dr. Liu recognizes the safety and related risks they pose to legacy aircraft and operations, including the populations on the ground.
“ICAO’s Member States anticipated these challenges when they mandated ICAO to develop new guidance for what are essentially domestic operations,” she underscored. “Their goal in this regard was to make use of ICAO’s cooperative and consensus based decision mechanisms to realize practical and effective operational guidelines which could be codified for implementation in almost any urban environment,” Dr. Liu says at the event with more than 600 RPAS Symposium participants from industry, academia, government and international organizations.
Dr. Liu stressed that in order for the numerous socio-economic benefits of unmanned aviation to be optimized, regulators must work to craft and implement a well-structured and flexible regulatory framework, taking aviation’s longstanding safety performance prioritization into consideration.
“Safety concerns such as collision with manned aircraft, the use of unapproved communications spectrum, and even the expectations of privacy for the citizens living among these intended operations, are all of great concern to governments today,” she noted. “And there are further issues we must address such as the functional interoperability we can expect to achieve with traditional air traffic management mechanisms, airspace design, and rules of the air for these new aircraft types, not to mention the location and types of operations relevant to UAS traffic management,” she adds.
Dr. Liu further updated the Third RPAS Symposium on the contributions of States and organizations to this process, led by the Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems Panel, with key outcomes being the adoption of new provisions across four Annexes to the Chicago Convention.
“I am very pleased to highlight in this regard that the Annex 1 provisions for the remote pilot licence were adopted last March by the ICAO Council, and that they are now available for voluntary use by States,” she said. “In line with our ongoing No Country Left Behind (NCLB) initiative, ICAO has also begun to assist States in their effective implementation of this new guidance,” she says.