Today, 100 000 flights depart each day, and each flight has never been safer. This has been achieved through the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) regulatory framework, which includes international standards for communication, navigation and surveillance systems. These leverage safety-related factors unlike those of any other frequency spectrum user. This specificity means that the ITU’s cooperation with ICAO is of superlative importance to the endurance of aviation’s continuous improvements to safety and efficiency.
These improvements are critical to the delivery of the significant socio-economic developmental benefits enabled by ICAO-compliant air connectivity. In other words, continued progress on these issues, with ITU’s support, represent profoundly strategic contributions to the realization of the UN’s Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
As sister agencies within the UN system, ICAO and ITU are facing significant but surmountable challenges as we assure aviation’s role as lever for global development, literally and figuratively lifting millions out of poverty.
Already, we anticipate that global air traffic volumes will double within twenty years. While this growth represents a terrific opportunity, it will also call for the allocation of significant political, financial and technical resources to ensure it can be sustainably managed and translated into socio-economic outcomes.
In addition to this, a variety of new aviation technologies are being deployed. A great example here are Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS).
UAS can achieve everything from the vitally pragmatic, such as the delivery of time-crucial medicines in remote and highly-developed regions alike, to the supremely ethereal, by way of photography that changes our perceptions of ourselves and the world we live in.
These technologies are opening hitherto unimaginable opportunities.
In many ways, with these new technologies, we find ourselves in the same situation as the visionaries who devised the foundational structure for air transport over seventy years ago. In the same way as these visionaries, we should safeguard the resources these technologies need to ensure the realization of their full potential. And it is the case with aviation as we know it today, these technologies will need access to spectrum
Here, the ITU and its very successful and expertly managed Radio Regulation Study Groups (ITU–R) come into focus. Aeronautical spectrum is often seen as very desirable by other spectrum users seeking access to global markets.
In this context, the ITU–R Study Groups and their associated Working Parties provide the necessary forum for balanced deliberations, ensuring the World Radiocommunication Conferences (WRC) make informed decisions. From ICAO’s perspective, the ITU–R Study Groups are therefore an essential backbone.
Moreover, ITU–R Study Group 5 (Terrestrial Services) and its Working Party 5B (Aeronautical, Maritime and Radiodetermination), are addressing Resolution 155 (WRC‑15).
This defines conditions for utilization of the fixed satellite service for control and non-payload communications of UAS. This resolution requires ICAO to develop standards for such radio links before 2023, a task which ICAO is currently undertaking with the assistance of our Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems Panel. These studies are a good example of the interdependency of the two organizations. Again, this is just one example. To give another example that will speak deeply to all of us, Working Party 5B will play a fundamental role in the implementation of ICAO’s Global Aeronautical Distress and Safety System (GADSS), developed in response to tragic loss of flight MH-370.
This year, we are celebrating the 90th anniversary of the ITU Study Groups. On the behalf of ICAO, I would like to express ICAO’s deep appreciation for the contributions of the ITU and its Study Groups to our work, as well our confidence that this profoundly collegial cooperation will continue for decades to come in support of the global community that we mutually serve.
For in-depth insights on 90 years of CCIR/ITU-R Study Groups download the latest edition of ITU News Magazine:
My message on WTISD 2020: Let’s recommit ourselves to leaving no one behind during and after COVID-19
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