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ICAO launches dialogue on international cooperation in aerial firefighting

1 December 2021

ICAO launches dialogue on international cooperation in aerial firefighting

On November 22, 2021, in the framework of the International Civil Aviation Organization the first meeting of the (ICAO) I4F (Flying Forest Fire Fighting) Dialogue initiative was held to discuss international cooperation on aerial world wildfire management. The ICAO initiative was announced in November last year in response to the proposal by Russia to create an International Fire Aviation Service under the auspices of ICAO, which had been presented jointly by specialists of the Central Institute of Aviation Motors (CIAM, part of the NRC "Zhukovsky Institute"), the All-Russian Research Institute for Fire Protection of Ministry of Russian Federation for Civil Defense, Emergencies and Elimination of Consequences of Natural Disasters and the Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution of Russian Academy of Sciences.  

The effectiveness of domestic specialized means and methods of aviation fire fighting is well known both in Russia and abroad. The Russian proposal and the ultimate goal of the ICAO I4F Dialogue initiative is not only to share best practices in this area, but above all to improve the effectiveness of prevention and control of wildfires and their consequences, as well as an optimal use of resources. The main objective of the first phase of the ICAO dialogue was to identify key stakeholders, interested in international cooperation on the use of aviation for wild fire management, as well as key problems in the area, ICAO could help.

The main organizer of the Russian Federation participation in the ICAO Dialogue was the Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation with the organizational support of CIAM (a CIAM specialist is the official representative of the Russian Federation in the ICAO Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection  (CAEP)).

During the online meeting, representatives of government organizations and aviation industry exchanged information on the situation with wildfires in different countries, existing technologies, methods and special air vehicles for fire prevention and firefighting.

The first session was devoted to reviewing the activities of the United Nations and international organizations in the field of fire control, such as the Global Fire Monitoring Center (GFMC), International Fire Aviation Working Group (IFAWG), ICAO Committee on Unmanned Aircraft Systems RPAS, etc.

The second section presented the perspectives of ICAO member States: Greece, Canada, Italy, Belarus, Brazil, Spain, as well as the European Union. The Russian Federation was represented by Deputy Head of the Aerial Forest Fire Center “Avialesookhrana” Andrey Eritsov. He noted that over the 90-year period of work, considerable experience has been gained in using aviation to monitor and firefighting in the country, as well as in cooperation with GFMC and other UN bodies, as well as with China, Canada, USA, Mongolia, Cuba, Greece and other countries. Speaking about the specifics of “Avialesookhrana” activities, he emphasized that to develop international cooperation, it is necessary to take into account “the diverse experience of countries in controlling and stabilizing the fire situation and accelerate the development of common standards that simplify the use of aviation and aviation technologies for joint firefighting”.

The technical section included the presentations of representatives of International Coordinating Council of Aerospace Industry Associations (ICCAIA), and leading technology companies. Two presentations were submitted by the Russian Federation: head of Airworthiness Office Certification Department of National Helicopter Center Mil&Kamov Dmitry Praslov spoke about the use of helicopters developed by the JSC “Russian Helicopters” for firefighting. Head of the Terrestrial Ecosystems Monitoring Laboratory of the Space Research Institute Sergey Bartalev shared the experience in monitoring wildfires in Russia using Earth observations and modeling.

The participants of the Dialogue discussed such issues as the role of ICAO in international cooperation in the field of aerial firefighting, legal problems of attracting foreign aircraft and specialists, joint safe use of airspace, international certification of air vehicles for firefighting, introduction of new firefighting methods, training of international aircrews, etc.

As a result of the meeting, it was decided to create an international working group consisting of representatives of all interested States and parties, which will further develop the ICAO I4F initiative and prepare the next dialogue.

Video recording of the event is available on the ICAO website.

ICAO is a specialized agency of the United Nations established in 1944 to promote the safe and orderly development of civil aviation around the world. Along with other activities, ICAO sets standards and regulations necessary to ensure flight safety, aviation safety, efficiency, capacity and environmental protection. CIAM specialists have been actively involved in the development of ICAO standards since the USSR joined the organization.