Article 83 bis
ICAO amendment requires give and take
By Brian Whitehead
Although most AMEs are familiar with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), it's probably not something they think about very often. Nevertheless, ICAO requirements form the basis for virtually all our aviation regulations. Toward the end of World War II, it had become obvious that, once hostilities were over, the impetus the war had given to aviation would result in an unprecedented expansion of international air travel.
The Chicago Convention
With remarkable foresight, given the other priorities driving national agendas at the time, the countries then known as the United Nations (the allies) and several neutral nations met in Chicago in December, 1944 to hammer out the details of an agreement on the safe and orderly development of international air transport. In all, 52 states participated. The result was The Convention on International Civil Aviation (usually referred to as "The Chicago Convention" or, in the Canadian Aviation Regulations, simply "The Convention").
When the United Nations Organization was formed in 1947, ICAO became a specialized agency of the new organization, and the Convention, having been ratified by the required two thirds of member states, became binding upon the signatories.
The Convention addresses a wide range of topics; articles 31 and 33, dealing with Certificates of Airworthiness, being of most interest to maintenance personnel. The Convention itself is supported by several Annexes, containing Standards And Recommended Practices (SARPs). Of particular interest to AMEs are Annexe 1 (Personnel Licensing), Annexe 6 (Operation of Aircraft), and Annexe 8 (Airworthiness). Under the Convention, signatories agree to establish regulations that meet the minimum requirements outlined in the SARPs, and to permit each other's aircraft to operate in their domestic airspace. Largely because of ICAO, commercial aviation has avoided the "flags of convenience" that are now so much a part of the marine world.
Evolution of the Convention
One of the fundamental principles of the Convention is that while the state of operation (that is, the state that issued the Air Operator Certificate, and in whose airspace the operation takes place) is responsible for the operating rules, the state of registry is responsible for the aircraft's airworthiness. When the Convention was first established, air carriers almost exclusively used domestically registered aircraft, so this distinction was moot. Things are very different now. International leases are commonplace, and air carriers often operate foreign registered aircraft alongside those under the domestic flag. With mixed fleets of this nature, the need to comply with different airworthiness regulations can be problematic. To complicate things further, there is not always complete agreement among airworthiness authorities as to whether a given topic should be treated as an operational or an airworthiness requirement. Maintenance schedules and airworthiness directives are just two examples of topics that can be addressed under either set of rules. When operating a fleet of mixed nationality, this situation is obviously far from ideal, and raises the possibility of misunderstandings that could lead to a serious oversight. At the very least, it creates an expensive administrative burden for both the operator and the regulator.
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