International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)
The Convention on International Civil Aviation, signed in Chicago on 7 December 1944 (the Chicago Convention), came into force on 4 April 1947. The legal instrument that gives effect to this in Australia is the Air Navigation Act 1920. The Convention established certain principles and arrangements so international civil aviation can develop in a safe and orderly manner, and that international air transport services be established on the basis of equality of opportunity and operated soundly and economically.
- Australian Participation in ICAO Activities
- Standards and Recommended Practices
- Aircraft Accident Investigation
- Aviation Environment
- Aviation Security
- International Airports
- International Airport Operator’s Guide
Australia's part in Global Aviation [PDF: 2189 KB] , is also available in the following working languages of the ICAO.
Australia's aviation safety regulatory system is based upon the international standards, recommended practices and procedures adopted by ICAO. Experts nominated by Australia participate in numerous Panels, Working Groups, Committees, etc. View a list of all the bodies which identifies the Australian agencies responsible. Arrangements for Australia's participation in ICAO are covered under a Tripartite Memorandum of Understanding [PDF: 5947 KB]  between the Department of Infrastructure and Transport, Airservices Australia and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.
The Chicago Convention provides (Article 37) for the Council of ICAO to make standards and recommended practices dealing with a wide range of matters concerned with the safety, regularity and efficiency of air navigation. The current standards and recommended practices are published by ICAO as Annexes to the Chicago Convention. This list also shows the agency responsible for each Annex.
More information about Annexes is available from the ICAO website. Copies of the annexes are available from ICAO or they may be accessed at major libraries. Annexes may also be inspected at the Library of the Department of Infrastructure and Transport, Canberra telephone (02) 6274 7641 (business hours).
Notification of Differences to Standards and Recommended Practices
Article 38 of the Convention requires, where a State finds it impracticable to comply in all respects with a standard, or to bring its own regulations or practices into full accord with a standard, that notification be given to ICAO.
Such notification is referred to as a “difference” and is published by ICAO in Supplements to each Annex.
Annex 9 of the Chicago Convention is an important document for international civil aviation as it details the agreed international SARPs to assist the free flow of passengers and goods, without compromising border integrity and/or sovereignty.
The Department of Infrastructure and Transport sits on ICAOs Facilitation Panel, and is part of the National Passenger Facilitation Committee, in which relevant parties (Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, Department of Immigration and Citizenship, Australian Quarantine Inspection Service, major international airports and the airlines) work together to put in place measures enabling Australia to comply with ICAO SARPs to the maximum extent possible.
Australia regularly reviews its compliance with Annex 9 and lodges differences where necessary.
Annex 13 of the Chicago Convention provides the international SARPs as the basis for aviation accident, serious incident and incident investigations, accident prevention and accident and serious incident reporting, with the sole objective being accident prevention. It is not the objective to apportion blame or provide a means of determining a liability.
ICAO manages a database known as the Accident/Incident Reporting (ADREP) system, where safety information discovered during an aviation investigation, and considered vital to accident prevention, is shared among contracting States worldwide.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) in the Department of Infrastructure and Transport is the responsible agency for carrying out the functions of Annex 13, involving civil registered aircraft in Australia and Australian registered aircraft overseas. The ATSB receives reports of around 150 aircraft accidents and serious incidents, 7000 incidents each year and is resourced to conduct independent no-blame investigations into around 90 of these occurrences. For further information on the ATSB, visit www.atsb.gov.au.
Annex 16 of the convention sets out the SARPs which have been adopted by ICAO signatory countries regarding aircraft noise and engine emissions
Volume I applies to aircraft noise and specifies the SARPs which apply to a wide range of aircraft.
Volume II applies to aircraft engine emissions applicable to specified aircraft engines.
The Department of Infrastructure and Transport administers the Air Navigation (Aircraft Noise) Regulations which apply to all aircraft operating within Australian airspace, and for the Air Navigation (Aircraft Engine Emissions) Regulations which apply to specified aircraft engines. Further information on these regulations and downloadable applications for permits are available.
Annex 17 of the convention sets out the Standards that signatory States such as Australia are to comply with, in order to safeguard international aviation from acts of unlawful interference.
The Annex covers such matters as the organisation of security arrangements, preventive measures, and the management of the response to acts of unlawful interference. It also contains extracts from other ICAO Annexes that impinge upon aviation security.
Within the Department of Infrastructure and Transport, the Aviation Security Branch develops and monitors airport and airline operators’ compliance with aviation security standards.
Article 10 of the Chicago Convention requires States to designate airports for international use. This provision is given effect in Australian law by section 9 of the Air Navigation Act 1920 which enables the Minister to designate an airport as international, should it meet the criteria.
Further information on the criteria and approval process for the designation of international airports can be found at the international airports page.
The categories of airports are:
- Major International
airports of entry and departure where all formalities incident to Customs, Immigration, Health and similar procedures are carried out, and which are open to scheduled and non-scheduled flights;
- Restricted Use International
airports of entry and departure at which the formalities incident to Customs, Immigration, Health and similar procedures are made available on a restricted basis, to flights with prior approval only;
- Alternate International
airports specified in the flight plan to which a flight may proceed when it becomes inadvisable to land at the airport of intended landing;
- International Non-Scheduled Flight
airports at which approval may be granted, provided the prescribed prior notice is given, for international non-scheduled flights only; no other form of international operation is permitted;
- External Territory International
airports of entry and departure for international air traffic located upon an Australian External Territory, where all formalities incident to Customs, Immigration, Health and similar procedures are available.
View the list of current designated international airports in Australia. Full details, including any special conditions that may apply to individual airports, are published in the Australian Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP).
The International Airport Operator’s Guide has been developed to provide existing and future Australian international airport operators with information on infrastructure and accommodation arrangements and facilities required by border and border related agencies necessary for them to carry out regulatory passenger processing and border protection functions as determined by the Australian Government.
This Guide provides information and advice on accommodation and infrastructure requirements for (a) existing international airport operators in relation to day to day agency requirements and for the purposes of planning refurbishment or redevelopment of airport terminals; and (b) airport operators planning to process regular international flights.
The Border Agencies’ Accommodation Group is responsible for managing and maintaining the Guide and any comments or enquiries should be directed to the document controller:
Australian Customs Service
5 Constitution Avenue
Canberra ACT 2601
A copy of the Guide can be found at http://www.customs.gov.au/site/page6025.asp