(September 24, 2010) – The Taiwan Economic & Cultural Office in Chicago recently attended the International Civic Aviation Organization conference in Montreal, Canada from Sept. 28 to Oct. 8, 2010 – to emphasize as an observer that Taiwan is a major international transportation hub linking Asia, Europe and North America.
Over 150,000 flights passed through the Taipei Flight Information Region in the first half of this year, while 52 airlines operated regular flights connecting Taiwan to 104 cities around the world. For the sake of passenger safety and international security, it is time Taiwan directly participated in the International Civil Aviation Organization.
Taiwan has long been an important contributor to international civil aviation, yet the nation continues to be excluded from the meetings and activities of the ICAO – a worrying state of affairs to the detriment of international aviation security.
Global safety standards established by the ICAO are the basis of many countries’ civil aviation regulations. Taiwan, however, is forced to obtain this information indirectly through other nations, nongovernmental organizations, neighboring flight information regions and private companies. But these updates are neither as comprehensive nor as timely as they need be.
Obviously, this situation impacts Taiwan’s ability to smoothly implement aviation safety programs. It also has negative consequences for Taiwan and the ICAO, with the country having to expend considerably more time, money and effort than ICAO members on improving aviation safety and security. For the aviation body, Taiwan’s absence means its goal of seamless global air traffic management operations can never be reached.
Since 9/11, countries around the world have invested considerable resources in improving aviation security. This led to the ICAO establishing the Universal Security Audit Program in June 2002 with the objective of promoting global aviation security through the implementation of Annex 17 Standards.
The program helps enhance security by identifying potential deficiencies in security oversight systems of member countries and by urging action for resolving any such shortcomings. The initial cycle of USAP audits was conducted between November 2002 and December 2007, with the majority of the 172 participating states showing significant improvements in their level of compliance with Annex 17. The second cycle of USAP audits began in July 2008, and the process continues to play an invaluable role in evaluating the aviation security of participants.
However, the program will never succeed in creating a watertight global aviation security network. Despite the ICAO’s stated fundamental principle of universality, not all nations are included in the scope of the audit. Air security concerns will remain even after the program has been completed.
To remedy this situation, the ICAO should invite Taiwan to participate in its meetings and activities as an observer. This would help ensure that uniform standards are in place, boosting passenger safety and confidence in aviation security levels around the world.
The article was produced by the Taiwan Government Information Office and first published online for Taiwan Today at http://taiwantoday.tw.