The governments of the UK, the US, Canada, the EU and its member states, and Japan have issued a joint statement expressing support for the efforts of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to address the challenges and opportunities associated with higher airspace operations.
Higher airspace operations (HAOs) take place in airspace above where conventional aircraft operate (over 60,000 feet) and present significant opportunities for the UK and our international partners to potentially enable the innovative transport of people and goods.
According to the statement:
“Activity in higher airspace is poised to soar, with demand for applications as diverse as bringing 5G and 6G telecommunications to underserved communities, improving current earth observation capabilities and enabling innovation in transportation of people and goods.
“Systems that ensure safety and security for the millions of flights occurring at lower altitudes are simply not in place for activity in higher airspace. Aircraft operating in higher airspace have vastly different performance characteristics and unconventional operational needs.
“Now is the time for a holistic vision of higher airspace operations. That vision should include harmonised rules for airworthiness, staff training and licensing, ground operations, identification, detection, communication, location, flight paths and emergencies to ensure that aircraft operating in higher airspace do not undermine the safety, security and sustainability of the existing aviation system while expanding the international aviation ecosystem in exciting ways.
“We call upon the ICAO to prioritise and expedite higher airspace operations in its work program and to accelerate the development and implementation of solutions for manned and unmanned aviation traffic in higher airspace, recalling ICAO Assembly Resolution A41-9, which recognises ICAO’s role in supporting the development and implementation of global concepts and guidance in higher airspace.
“We further urge the ICAO Secretariat to organise discussions on higher airspace operations during the next 14th Air Navigation Conference in order to reshape ICAO’s technical work program to take onboard these new priorities and identify potential resources, consider progress and determine a way forward, taking into consideration the discussions on higher airspace operations at the recent Air Navigation World Event.
“Finally, we call upon the Air Navigation Commission, the premier forum for studying, discussing and advancing civil aviation standards to support this vital work in ICAO.”
View the statement here
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