The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a UN Specialized Agency, is the global forum for civil aviation. ICAO works to achieve its vision of safe, secure and sustainable development of civil aviation through cooperation amongst its member States. It is this organization that formulates standardized principles and techniques of international air navigation and fosters the planning and development of international air transport to ensure safe and orderly growth of the industry. The ICAO headquarter is located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

1. The Basic Structure

2. Hierarchy of Incidents

2.1 Outcomes of Paris Peace Convention

Hierarchy continues….

3. World War II & the Birth of ICAO

World War II on one side brought a lot of misery to the world but on the other side World War II brought remarkable advancements in the field of aviation. The madness to win the war between Allies and Axis Power, one may call it unfortunately or fortunately brought remarkable advancements in the field of aviation. This was the one sector which benefitted from the war which sowed seed for the creation of ICAO.

At the end of World War II many governments reached for a possibility of peaceful use of air transport which would require agreement between various nations.

Development of aero plane into a major mode of transport during World War II highlighted the requirement to coordinate many issues of international civil aviation which were beyond the reach of individual governments.

There were two regional-cum-international regimes but after the world wars the need was felt to have some sort of truly international organization to harmonize global civil aviation development.

Hierarchy continues….

3.1 “President Roosevelt” to the opening plenary session of convention:

“As we begin to write a new chapter in the fundamental law of the air, let us all remember that we are engaged in a great attempt to build enduring institutions of peace. These peace settlements cannot be endangered by petty considerations or weakened by groundless fears.  Rather, with full recognition of the sovereignty and judicial equality of all nations, let us work together so that the air may be used by humanity, to serve humanity.”

4. The Chicago covention on international civil aviation….

The Preamble to the Convention on International Civil Aviation sets forth the purpose of ICAO:

  • WHEREAS the future development of international civil aviation can greatly help to create and preserve friendship and understanding among the nations and peoples of the world, yet its abuse can become a threat to the general security; and
  • WHEREAS it is desirable to avoid friction and to promote that co-operation between nations and peoples upon which the peace of the world depends;
  • THEREFORE, the undersigned governments having agreed on certain 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.

Chicago convention among other things established that every Contracting State has complete and exclusive sovereignty over the air space above its territory and provides that no scheduled international air service may operate over or into the territory of Contracting State without the previous consent of that State.

Chicago Convention helped in the Adoption of Standards and Recommended Practices  (SARPS) by Contracting States. So far about 12000 have been promulgated, which aims towards three key points for the air transport industry 1. Standardisation 2. harmonisation 3.Cooporation

4.1 Chicago Convention gives some “Rights” to meet certain “Obligations”


  • Upholds  fundamental principle of Sovereignty of Contracting State (Art1)
  • Grants transit and landing rights for non-scheduled traffic (Art 5)
  • Grants each State the right to reserve the traffic within its borders to its own airlines (Art 7)
  • Grants each “user” State the right to equitable treatment from a “provider” State in terms of rules of entry to, transition through and departure from that State’s airspace and airports (Arts 11 and 15)
  • Provides for mutual recognition of certificates of air worthiness, personnel licensing, etc (Art 33)


  • Each State agrees to give uniform treatment to aircraft from other States when in their airspace or using their airports (Arts 11 and 15)
  • Each State agrees to provide airports and air traffic services in conformance with SARPS established under the convention (Art 28)
  • -Each State agrees to implement in its national regulations the SARPS and procedures adopted by ICAO in order to ensure the highest practicable degree of uniformity (Art 37)
  • Each State is required to notify ICAO immediately if it finds it impracticable to comply in all respects with any international standard or procedure ( Art 38) 

Hierarchy continues….

First session of ICAO was held in May 1947 with 46 Contracting States in attendance.

ICAO became a constituent of UNO on 1/10/1947

4.2 ICAO has seven regional offices globally

4.3 Structure of ICAO

  1. Assembly – is comprised of representatives of member States and is the sovereign body of ICAO. It meets once in three years. Each Contracting State is entitled to one vote and decision is taken by a majority of votes cast, except when otherwise provided in the convention. As on date there are 193 members of ICAO.
  2. Council – It is a permanent body responsible to Assembly. It is composed of 36 States elected by Assembly for a three year term. Council may deal with any subject which is necessary to maintain the safety and regularity of operation of international air transport. One of the major duties of Council is to adopt SARPS and to incorporate these as Annexes to the convention on international civil aviation. Assembly has the authority to choose the Council members.
  3. Secreteriat – is headed by Secretary General who is appointed by the Council for three years and is in charge of five separate bureaus/divisions:
  • Air Navigation Bureau (ANB)
  • Air Transport Bureau (ATB)
  • Technical Cooperation Bureau (TCB)
  • Legal Bureau (LEB)
  • Bureau of Administration and Services (ADB)

4.4 Publications of ICAO

To bring to the world the new regulations, findings, researches, theory, documents, achievements, etc. in the fields of aviation ICAO issues publications which are printed in “6” different languages which are English, Arabic, Chinese, Russian, Spanish and French:

4.5 Annexs of ICAO

It mainly comprises of Standard and Recommended Pactices (SARPs). But how are SARPs created ?

Answer lies in the four “C”s of the aviation industry:

  • Cooperation
  • Consensus
  • Compliance
  • Commitment

Co-operation in the formulation of SARPS. Consensus in their approval, compliance in their application and commitment of adherence to this on-going process.

1. Standard : These are specifications for physical characteristics, configuration, material, performance, personnel or procedure, the uniform application of which is recognized as necessary for the safety or regularity of international air navigation and to which ICAO Contracting States compulsorily need to conform in accordance with the Convention. In the event of impossibility of compliance, notification to the ICAO Council is compulsory under article 38 of convention.

2. Recommended Practice : These are specifications for physical characteristics, configuration, material, performance, personnel or procedure, the uniform application of which is recognized as desirable for the safety or regularity of international air navigation and to which ICAO Contracting States endure to conform in accordance with the Convention. States are invited to inform the ICAO Council of non – compliance.

List of Annex by ICAO:


ICAO in itself is a dynamic body which has been looking keenly into all segments of the sector and is constantly developing strategies to deal with new challenges that knock on the doors of the aviation industry.

ICAO has a unique mandate to support the sustainable growth of international civil aviation. Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) is an important element to complement the basket of measures that ICAO has been promoting to reduce the climate impact of flying. The other measures being undertaken include technological innovation, operational improvement, and the implementation of sustainable aviation fuels.

One cannot oversee the devastating affects that the pandemic has left on the aviation sector. In response to this ICAO has formulated COVID-19 recovery strategy to facilitate the aviation sector’s recovery from the impacts of the pandemic, towards enhanced safety, security and sustainability of flight.

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