by Christopher A. Hart, Acting Chairman
In December 1944, delegates from 54 nations gathered in the Grand Ballroom of the Stevens Hotel in Chicago at the invitation of the United States of America. And today, it was an honor to be in that same place celebrating the ICAO successes.
In 1944, those nations had a vision of a safe and orderly international civil aviation system that would foster friendship, understanding, and cooperation and signed the Convention on International Civil Aviation, also known as the “Chicago Convention.” Fifty-two nations signed the Convention, establishing the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) as a specialized agency of the United Nations. The aviation industry is an international business, where aircraft carrying passengers and cargo crisscross the globe and has greatly benefitted from its establishment.
70 years later, ICAO and the global air transport community came together to commemorate this moment in aviation history. I was pleased to be with ICAO Secretary General Raymond Benjamin; US Secretary of Transportation, The Honorable Anthony Foxx; the FAA Administrator, the Honorable Michael P. Huerta; the Honorable Rahm Emanuel, Mayor of Chicago, as well as the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon to mark this momentous occasion. During the meeting, a Special Resolution paying tribute to the Chicago Convention’s contributions to global peace and prosperity through the safe and orderly development of international civil aviation was passed.
For more than 40 years, the NTSB has participated in ICAO working groups that have shaped aviation safety. We have worked with our international counterparts to improve aircraft operations and maintenance for civil aviation, to create an international standard for supporting the families of those affected by an aviation accident, and to improve how we work together to investigate aviation accidents.
In the U.S., flying on a commercial jetliner has never been safer, but it’s not risk-free. We must continue to look for ways to improve safety, including working with our foreign partners. International cooperation drives further safety improvements to U.S. products and services and encourages reciprocal support from our foreign partners when foreign equipment or foreign carriers are involved in accidents in the U.S. Only by working together can we ensure that the traveling public arrives at their final destination safely.