One year on, one year wiser


Nico Voorbach, CANSO ICAO Affairs Director, provides his perspective on the latest updates to ICAO’s restart and recovery guidance for aviation.

As we enter a second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, CANSO ICAO Affairs is working closely with ICAO and our aviation partners to provide practical, aligned guidance to governments and industry operators and help air transport restart and recover from the impacts of COVID-19 on a coordinated global basis.

CANSO has been an active participant in the ICAO Council created the Council Aviation Recovery Task Force (CART) since it was established in April 2020, providing the ATM perspective and helping establish a framework and practical steps for aviation’s recovery.

In January 2021 the CART reconvened for its third phase review and update of its guidance for States; the “Take-off”: Guidance for Air Travel through the COVID-19 Public Health Crisis (TOGD) and the Manual on Testing and Cross-Border Risk Management Measures (Doc 10152). It has also developed a High Level Cover Document (HLCD) explaining the updates and calling for States to implement the recommendations and guidelines.

Safeguarding skills

Although most of CART’s work is related to the passenger process, transportation of vaccines and health measures at airports, CANSO has an important part to play in these discussions. The restart of aviation is important for the whole industry and we have to make sure there are no unnecessary obstacles to a speedy recovery.

Of the latest updates, one important recommendation for air navigation service providers (ANSPs) is in recommendation 12: “States are encouraged to facilitate cross-border access to medical and training facilities, including flight simulation training devices used for flight crew (national and foreign) and air traffic controllers (ATCOs) to maintain their certifications, recency of experience, and proficiency.”

The CART established an ICAO COVID-19 Contingency Related Differences (CCRD) platform to allow States to deviate from ICAO Standards on, for example, licenses and certificates. This was because due to lockdowns and travel restrictions it might have been impossible to renew the medical certificates or get the required training for renewals. The CCRD presented an overview of all States deviations due to the Pandemic and aims for recognition of those deviations by other States.

During the CART II phase it was decided that these alleviations should not be continued beyond 31 March 2021 as it was thought that the pandemic would be on its retour. However since several Sates still are experiencing difficulties to go back to “normal” operations it was decided to create a temporary solution. This recommendation was initially only intended for flight crews but CANSO has now managed to include ATCOs in this recommendation as well.

This is just one example where we were able to represent the interest of our membership.

Securing vital infrastructure

We are pleased that the CART has also made recommendations regarding economic recovery and that it highlights the importance of an efficient and safe aviation infrastructure as part of this.

CART recognises that the COVID-19 crisis has required countries to confront difficult trade-offs associated with health, economic, and social challenges, and that public health still remains the overriding priority, however it calls upon States to take aviation’s crucial role in the fight against the pandemic under proper consideration when defining their national policy and spending priorities.

On this issue CANSO has highlighted that there can be no recovery of aviation without efficient safe and sustainable air traffic management (ATM).

The updated CART guidance has also targeted specific issues related to the testing and vaccination of passengers as part of a State’s multilayer risk management strategy. To allow States to recognise health certificates from travellers or Crews, the CART saw the need for a coordinated and common template. In addition, CART took into account the World Health Organization (WHO) position that “national authorities and conveyance operators should not introduce requirements of proof of COVID-19 vaccination for international travel as a condition for departure or entry”.

Words from the wise

As we continue to battle the consequences of the pandemic, CANSO will keep working with ICAO and all other stakeholders. Now one year on from its start, we are in position to learn from the past years’ experiences and apply the wisdom this has provided. We remain committed to representing our industry, and playing an active role in the ongoing work of the CART.

For more information about CANSO’s ICAO Affairs activities, please get in touch via ICAO guidance material can be found here.