The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) plays a crucial role in the development of a safe and prosperous global aviation industry. On August 1, a new CEO took over the reins of the UN’s specialist aviation organisation as Juan Carlos Salazar of Colombia assumed the office of Secretary General, ICAO’s primary leadership position. Secretary General Salazar has more than 25 years’ experience in civil aviation and has taken over this influential position at a critical time for industry all over the world.

Civil aviation is still suffering the dramatic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. As ADS reported last week, while the signs of a recovery are growing, there’s still a long way to go. ICAO will play a pivotal role in ensuring that aviation can recover fully, especially long-haul travel which remains significantly depressed. Global standards and recommendations on clear and concise guidance for requiring testing and vaccinations to travel cross-border, for example, is one way in which ICAO will be vital to help international travel resume safely, supporting ADS’ members across the UK for whom business-as-usual is still a long way off.

Secretary General Salazar’s in-tray will also include an ever-increasing focus on sustainability in aviation. While ADS and UK aerospace are fully behind the drive to reach net zero by 2050, environmental problems won’t be solved by any one country acting alone. Aviation is inherently global, and international engagement and cooperation will be vital to achieving the industry’s ambitious environmental goals. Continuing the rollout and development of ICAO’s carbon offsetting regime, CORSIA, will be a focus point for the evolution of aviation’s sustainability credentials, as well as a global policy framework for Sustainable Aviation Fuel.

The next year will see several opportunities for the new Secretary General to make his mark – ICAO’s next high-level meeting on COVID-19 recovery will take place in October, before COP26 in Glasgow which will be a prime opportunity for ICAO and UK aerospace to reiterate its commitment to and to make progress on climate goals.