The ongoing 40th assembly session in Montreal, Canada, of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which supposedly works toward building a “seamless sky” to ensure the safety of aviation worldwide, lacks a key participant – Taiwan, which handles a large volume of international air traffic.
In 2018 alone, Taiwan’s 17 airports serviced more than 68.9 million passengers, with 92 airlines “operating passenger and cargo flights on 313 routes connecting 149 cities around the world,” according to Taiwan’s Transportation and Communications Minister Lin Chia-lung who described how his country is an active stakeholder in the international civil aviation community.
Lin said the Taipei Flight Information Region (Taipei FIR), for which Taiwan is responsible, manages large air traffic volumes in East Asia and has provided services to over 1.75 million controlled flights in 2018, a 5.8 percent increase over 2017.
Amid the depth of Taiwan’s active involvement in international aviation, one may find weird and lamentable why it is shunned in the ICAO Assembly, which meets at least once every three years, due to China’s aggressive efforts to block its participation. And it’s indeed ironic to think that Taiwan was a founding member of ICAO.
The importance of Taiwan’s participation has been highlighted in the G7 Foreign Ministers’ April 7, 2019 communique that said: “We support the substantive participation of all active members of the international aviation community in ICAO forums. Excluding some of its members for political purposes compromises aviation safety and security.”
In pursuit of air safety, Taiwan and ICAO really need each other. “The Taipei FIR is an inseparable part of the global network of FIRs. Given technical, professional, and pragmatic considerations, Taiwan urgently needs to establish direct communication channels with ICAO and obtain the most up-to-date rules and regulations, so that the safe air transport of passengers and cargo can be ensured,” Lin wrote in a recent article.
“Taiwan’s Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) works diligently to maintain the highest level of aviation safety and service quality in the Taipei FIR. However, unable to participate in ICAO’s meetings, mechanisms, and activities, CAA Taiwan is forced to make a substantial extra investment of both time and resources to understand the rationale behind ICAO’s decisions and to properly implement its SARPs (Standard and Recommended Practices),” Lin said.
“Taiwan will continue to endeavor to implement measures to meet ICAO’s SARPs so as to enhance aviation safety and security,” Lin assured. “Yet allowing Taiwan to participate in ICAO, including attending the Assembly and obtaining related information, is necessary and legitimate. It not only conforms to ICAO’s goals of a seamless sky and having ‘No Country Left Behind,’ it would also create a win-win situation for Taiwan, the Asia-Pacific region, and ICAO.”
He said Taiwan’s professional and constructive participation would be of tremendous help to ICAO in achieving its vision and mission of connecting the world.
“As a responsible stakeholder in the international aviation community, Taiwan shares the global interest in safeguarding regional and global aviation safety and is committed to contributing to the further development of global aviation. We are willing to share our experience in developing the aviation industry as well as our technical expertise as we pursue the common goal of safe, orderly, and sustainable development of international civil aviation,” Lin explained.
With its immense contribution towards the pursuit of aviation safety, Taiwan would indeed be a great help to ICAO as it “works to foster the planning and development of international air transport so as to ensure the safe and orderly growth of international civil aviation around the world.”