ICAO Council president Roberto Kobeh Gonzalez has called for “a fundamental shift in perspective” if a more efficient and globally harmonized air navigation system is to be achieved that will support the long-term sustainability of air transport.
He told the World ATM Congress in Madrid last week that sovereignty must not be an obstacle to progress in making the required changes for a more efficient management of the global air navigation system.
“Under the Chicago Convention, each state has complete and exclusive sovereignty over the airspace above its territory. That is an undisputable fact,” Kobeh said. “We must now consider sovereignty within the context of the global, harmonized air navigation framework we want to implement. We need to think in global, systemic terms. Airspace structures can no longer be based only on national and domestic considerations, as important as these may be.”
He said that major efficiency gains would be achieved through global integration rather than by rigid boundary structures.
“We need to focus on international rather than on purely national requirements,” Kobeh said.
He pointed out that there are already instances of where airspace provision is not related to national boundaries. ASECNA in Africa provides air navigation services across six flight information regions extending from Antananarivo (Madagascar), to Brazzaville (Congo), Dakar Oceanic and Dakar Terrestrial, Niamey (Niger) and N’djamena (Chad). It includes 17 African states and covers an airspace 1.5 times that of Europe.
Similarly in South America, COCESNA provides air navigation services for a number of neighboring states, namely Guatemala, El Salvador, Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua and Cost Rica.
Kobeh said there are also several other instances where air navigation services are provided across borders.
“The provision of air navigation services has nothing to do with sovereignty,” Kobeh said.
IATA DG and CEO Tony Tyler endorsed Kobeh’s call: “Why should every country have an air navigation services provider? Has anyone ever asked that question?”