McMillan to head airspace security task force

Flight Safety Foundation’s David McMillan is to head the international task force charged with mitigating the risks faced by airlines flying over war torn countries.

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) last week selected McMillan at its first two‐day meeting of a special group which was convened in the aftermath of the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH1. Its task is to refine the roles and procedures relating to the mitigation of conflict zone risk in civilian airspace.

ICAO’s Council president Dr Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu opened the meeting, highlighting the global context of the MH17 accident and the unique challenges it set out for the task force’s state and industry participants. ICAO hopes the task force will help provide greater clarity of procedures and responsibilities with respect to civilian airspace over conflict zones.

“Aviation’s first priority is always the safety of the passengers and crew who count on our global network to carry them rapidly and reliably, anywhere in the world,” said Aliu.

“While the circumstances of the loss of MH17 present some very complex challenges, for States particularly but also for airlines, airports and air navigation services providers, I have been very encouraged by the range of ideas presented and am confident that the ICAO Council will be reviewing some mature Task Force proposals when it reconvenes later this year.”

McMillan was nominated by the Government of Malaysia and supported by the Government of the Netherlands, two countries vitally affected by the shoot down of MH17 in the Ukraine.

“We’re looking for urgent, practical measures to address these new risks,” McMillan stressed.

Some of the practical measures under discussion included possible methods whereby states could both refine and share the various types of information needed to support more comprehensive conflict zone risk assessments. Proposals for the consideration of industry players included the development of more detailed requirements relating to conflict zone warning criteria.

McMillan has served on the Flight Safety Foundation Board of Governors since 2007 and was elected chairman of the Board in 2012. McMillan also served as director general of Eurocontrol from January 2008 through December of 2012. Eurocontrol consists of member states from the European Region, including the European Community. It is involved in almost every aspect of air traffic management in Europe.

McMillan inisted that civil aviation remains fundamentally very safe, adding, ‘but we do need to apply lessons learned from the tragedy of MH17 and recent events to fill any gaps that may exist to better assess and share risks from and near regional conflict zones’.

The task force will meet again on 25‐26 August for its second round of talks and ICAO is aiming to deliver the group’s preliminary findings to the 203rd Session of the UN body’s 36‐State Governing Council in October 2014.

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