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‘Safe and secure’ travel must top global aviation agenda

TODAY file photo
Minister for Education (Schools) and Second Minister for Transport Mr Ng Chee Meng delivering his opening address at the WCACEF on Wednesday. With terrorism and cyber crime emerging as global threats in the aviation sector, the focus must be on enhancing capabilities to ensure “safe and secure” air travel for passengers, said Mr Ng. Photo: CAAS

‘Safe and secure’ travel must top global aviation agenda

SINGAPORE — With terrorism and cyber crime emerging as global threats in the aviation sector, the focus must be on enhancing capabilities to ensure “safe and secure” air travel for passengers, said Minister for Education (Schools) and Second Minister for Transport Mr Ng Chee Meng.

Speaking at the opening of the World Civil Aviation Chief Executives Forum, he highlighted that aviation security has to be a key priority, even as the aviation sector is set for growth.

Noting that the outlook for international aviation is bright, Mr Ng cited forecasts by Airbus and Boeing which project a 4 per cent annual growth rate in air traffic. “At this rate, air traffic will double within the next 15 or so years,” he said.

“We will have to pay much more attention to aviation security. We need to increase our capabilities to ensure safe and secure air travel for passengers, even as we facilitate aviation growth,” said Mr Ng.

Adding that human capital development and knowledge sharing will be critical, he pointed to Singapore’s agreement with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) on cooperation in leadership and management training, which will include aviation safety and security training.

The aviation security programme will equip aviation leaders with the latest developments on the international civil aviation security framework and its underlying principles, to effectively manage aviation security. The programme will be conducted at locations worldwide from 2018 to 2020, Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) said in a statement to the press.

Separately, the CAAS also signed an agreement with the Singapore University of Technology and Design to collaborate and engage in the areas of aviation research, innovation and talent development.

Dr Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, president of the Council of ICAO, said international efforts to coordinate the new security thrust are ongoing.

The organisation’s new global aviation security plan was endorsed by the ICAO Council last month, and is being circulated among member states for comments, he said.

ICAO will convene its inaugural Aviation Security Symposium in September, which will make member states “more connected and integrated as a global network than ever before”, said Dr Aliu.

Referring to ICAO’s stand on the restrictions on the carriage of laptops and other portable electronic devices into aircraft, Dr Aliu stated: “Our guiding priority in this area is … to ensure that all related security and safety risks are fully considered and prudently balanced.

“We have established a multi-disciplinary cargo safety group to undertake an in-depth analysis and the latest findings will be presented to the ICAO Council at its 212th session this autumn.”

On threats associated with aviation’s cybersecurity vulnerabilities, Dr Aliu said a joint declaration was produced at ICAO’s first Cyber Summit and Exhibition at Dubai in April.

Efforts to come up with an “effective and collaborative” global cyber security response to “protect networks, infrastructure and customers” will be boosted when the new system-wide information management provisions come into force next year, he added.

Building on global strategic partnerships, Dr Aliu highlighted that the organisation’s “No Country Left Behind” initiative is core to ICAO’s efforts aimed at capacity building globally. It assumes significance as less regulated or developed countries could turn out be weak links and easy targets for terrorists and cyber criminals.

Updating on aviation emissions and offsetting efforts, Dr Aliu noted that the aviation sector was forging “real climate leadership” in comparison to other global industry sectors.

In March, the first-ever global certification CO2 standard for aircraft was adopted by the ICAO Council, following closely on the ICAO Assembly’s adoption last October of the carbon offsetting and reduction scheme for international aviation (Corsia).

“We expect that more than 90 per cent of international aviation emissions will likely be covered under the Corsia at the start of the voluntary, pilot phase,” said Dr Aliu, adding that this would help reduce international aviation CO2 emissions. Rumi Hardasmalani