Key role for South Africa on ICAO security panel


South Africa has been appointed chair of the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) Aviation Security Panel.

The appointment comes months after the United States and the European Union given approved the country’s aviation regulatory system on aviation and air cargo security.

ICAO is a specialised agency of the United Nations tasked with working with Member States and global aviation organisations to develop standards and recommended practices (SARPs) which must be effected when developing legally-enforceable national civil aviation regulations. In addition, ICAO regularly conducts audits among member states to help identify aviation security shortcomings and subsequently discusses methods to assist in resolving deficiencies by implementing globally accepted security SARPs.

The announcement was made at the recent ICAO Aviation Security Panel meeting held at ICAO headquarters in Montreal, Canada. South Africa will be represented by the director of the SA Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA), Poppy Khoza, making her the first woman in the position. Prior to the appointment, South Africa served as the panel’s deputy chair for two consecutive terms.

ICAO’s Aviation Security Panel is tasked with enhancing civil aviation security across the world by, among others, developing and co-ordinating an effective global policy and legal framework in response to the evolving threat to civil aviation. It also sets global aviation security standards, which are then approved by the ICAO Council, to safeguard civil aviation operations against issues related to terrorism and any matter threatening aviation operations.

As the Panel conducts its business it gives consideration to economic, operational and other impacts in civil aviation and provides advice on strategic direction on aviation security matters. The Panel also identifies and examines new and emerging threats and develops appropriate mitigating measures. Through close collaboration with other agencies, the Panel also co-ordinates counter measures against threats to civil aviation operations. During meetings, the Panel also discusses civil aviation incidents as and when they happen, for instance 9/11 and the French Alps tragedies.

Commenting on the appointment Khoza said, “The appointment is a demonstration of trust and faith by the global aviation community in South Africa’s capabilities on aviation matters and specifically aviation security. It is certainly an enormous challenge; but a challenge that is surmountable”.

She plans to use the tenure to actively advocate for the continued elevation of the aviation security agenda, particularly among states across Africa.
“ICAO has made great strides in guiding the global community on aviation security matters. We just need to continue the work it has been doing; putting particular emphasis on constant re-evaluation of systems and processes employed. Evolution is a consistent necessity as those with malicious intent are always on the prowl for weaknesses in aviation security systems. This puts the onus on authorities to constantly improve aviation security risk management systems in order to remain a yard ahead,” she said.