In 2013, the ICAO Council approved the ICAO Policy on Assistance to Aircraft Accident Victims and their Families which was published in Doc 9998 with the associated guidance material Doc 9973, Manual on Assistance to Aircraft Accident Victims and their Families, aimed at assisting States in implementing this policy. As adopted by the 38th Session of the Assembly (A38), Resolution A38-1 recognized the need to provide assistance to victims and their families and urged States to “establish legislation, regulations and/or policies to support victims of civil aviation accidents and their family members”.
In its illustrious 76-year history, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) had not previously convened a dedicated event focused on how providing assistance to victims of air accidents. However, there have been two parallel events that can be noted as previous experiences in this regard:
First ICAO AAAVF
The ICAO’s Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP) has revealed alarming statistics regarding the implementation of Doc 9998 in 193 States, indicating a significant lack of compliance. In light of this concerning data, ACVFFI has recognized the urgent necessity to convene an ICAO event specifically focused on ICAO regulation on providing vital assistance to victims and their families in the aftermath of aviation accidents. This imperative gathering comes almost a decade after the initial release of the ICAO Policy on Assistance to Victims of Aircraft Accidents.
At the behest of Ms. Pilar Vera, ACVFFI Chair, for the first time in its history, ICAO included in its triennial calendar for the period 2019-2021 the organization of an event specifically addressing the multifaceted issues concerning victims of air accidents. These issues encompassed accident investigation, insurance practices pertaining to victims, passengers’ rights, as well as the management of information by both media entities and investigating authorities.
Originally scheduled for 2020, the event, unfortunately, had to be postponed due to the unprecedented global COVID-19 pandemic that disrupted international travel and public gatherings. Through her remarkable efforts, Ms. Pilar Vera successfully garnered the collaboration of the Government of the Canary Islands and the Spanish Ministry of Transport, thereby facilitating the eventual realization of the event in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. This location was chosen as a fitting tribute to the passengers of flight JK5022. Ms. Pilar Vera also advocated for the event during an informal meeting between the ICAO Council and the ACVFFI.
The Symposiums on Assistance to Aircraft Accident Victims and their Families serve as a platform to foster enhanced international cooperation, facilitating the successful implementation of practical and attainable measures across various crucial domains. Specifically, it provides an invaluable opportunity for participants to share their experiences and disseminate best practices related to the sensitive communication of information regarding aircraft accidents or the effective management of compensation by insurance companies, while also charting the course for both short and long-term strategies.
With the active participation of States, their competent national authorities, aircraft and airport operators, insurance companies, communication media, and other pertinent stakeholders, this symposium offers an unparalleled occasion to exchange information and elevate expertise in the field of providing assistance to air accident victims and their families.