ICAO and Global Initiatives

The ICAO and Global Initiatives Staff is based in Washington, DC and Montreal, Canada, and is responsible for managing the overall FAA relationship with the International Civil Aviation Organization and other global organizations involved in or affecting U.S. aviation interests. In addition, the ICAO and Global Initiatives Staff lead the coordination and implementation of aviation activities that have a global impact.

International Civil Aviation Organization

The United States is a founding member of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which was established in 1944 by the Chicago Convention. Currently, there are 193 members or Contracting States in ICAO, which is governed by a Council of 36 member states including the United States. Headquartered in Montreal, Canada, ICAO's core function is to develop and support the implementation of global standards and recommended practices applicable to international aviation. These include safety, security, air traffic management, and environmental standards, among others. ICAO supports the implementation of these standards through technical assistance programs, and monitors their implementation through the Universal Safety Oversight Audit Program (USOAP).

The United States Mission to ICAO headquarters is led by a U.S. Ambassador appointed by the President. The Ambassador is assisted by a Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) from the U.S. Department of State, as well as by a Senior Representative of the FAA, who is a member of the ICAO and Global Initiatives Staff. In addition, the United States appoints an Air Navigation Commissioner to serve as an independent technical advisor on the Air Navigation Commission (ANC). The ANC is the principal body concerned with the development of all international air navigation and safety standards and procedures covering international civil aviation. The Ambassador represents the United States on the ICAO Council, and the DCM, FAA Senior Representative, and Air Navigation Commission serve as alternate Council members.

The ICAO and Global Initiatives group manages the FAA's relationship with ICAO headquarters, and ensures agency-wide coordination of technical aviation policies at ICAO that advance U.S. safety, environmental and efficiency objectives. The group supports key activities such as ICAO Council's Aviation Recovery Task Force (CART), which is aimed at providing practical, aligned guidance to governments and industry operators in order to restart the international air transport sector and recover from the impacts of COVID-19 on a coordinated global basis. Additionally, the ICAO and Global Initiatives group leads the ongoing coordination effort across United States Government (USG) in the planning and execution of major events such as the triennial ICAO Assembly Sessions and other major ICAO events such as the upcoming High-level Conference on COVID-19 (HLCC 2021).

Interagency Group on International Aviation

The Office of International Affairs also plays a key role by managing the Interagency Group on International Aviation (IGIA). IGIA was created in 1960 to provide coordinated, inter-agency recommendations on aviation matters to the Department of State. IGIA membership is comprised of representatives from the Departments of Transportation, State, Commerce, Homeland Security and Defense, the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Communications Commission, with additional USG agencies included as necessary. The Assistant Secretary for Aviation and International Affairs at the Department of Transportation serves as the IGIA Chairperson, and the Executive Director of the Office of International Affairs is the Vice Chairperson. The ICAO and Global Initiatives staff provide administrative support as the IGIA Secretariat.

The IGIA Secretariat includes a Principal Staff Officer who is responsible for coordinating USG policy with the applicable IGIA member agencies. In addition to coordination of broad cross-USG international aviation matters, IGIA Secretariat serves as the conduit between the USG and ICAO headquarters in Montreal and its seven Regional Offices. All incoming documentation or correspondence for USG information or action is directed to the IGIA Secretariat for coordination and the IGIA Secretariat is responsible for submission of responses to the appropriate organizations and ICAO Offices.

Crisis Response Working Group

The FAA is responsible for safety oversight of U.S. civil operators, U.S.- registered civil aircraft, and FAA-certificated airmen worldwide. The proliferation and technological advancement of anti-aircraft weaponry systems, particularly in States experiencing conflict, poses a serious threat to the safety and security of international civil air traffic. Well known losses of passenger aircraft include the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 and 2020 downing of Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752.

Despite States’ obligations under the Chicago Convention and related Annexes established by ICAO, not all States experiencing conflict provide adequate information about the safety and security of their airspace, nor do they take precautionary measures to restrict or close their airspace when necessary. As a result, other States regularly issue warnings, recommendations and/or operational directives to their respective national air operators flying near global areas of conflict.

FAA has four main tools to address concerns about potentially hazardous airspace outside the U.S.:

  • Engagement
  • Information Sharing
  • Notice-to-Airmen (NOTAM)
  • Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR)

While, the primary responsibility for issuing advisories and prohibitions for potentially hostile situations threatening civil aviation rests with the air navigation service provider (ANSP) for the affected airspace, the FAA may issue an Advisory or Prohibitory NOTAM for U.S. operators, U.S.-registered civil aircraft, and FAA-certificated airmen, if the FAA Administrator deems action necessary for safety or national security.

The FAA has a dedicated team of experts from multiple disciplines (e.g., intelligence, flight standards, air traffic, international affairs, rulemaking, legal) that assess risks to U.S. civil aviation operating in and around conflict zones and coordinates FAA and appropriate U.S. Government approvals for any actions. This team is called the Crisis Response Working Group for Potentially Hazardous Situations Outside the U.S. (CRWG).

A copy of FAA's current NOTAMs and links to the SFARs can be found at prohibitions, restrictions and notices. Instructions for operators seeking more information about the nature of the FAA's concern or seeking relief from a flight prohibition can be found in the specific NOTAM or SFAR.

For additional information or questions about our Conflict Zone Program Office, please contact us via: 9-FAA-Conflict-Zone-PMO@faa.gov.

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