The launch of ICAO’s Electronic Personnel Licence verification tool set

ICAO provides Standards and Recommended Practices for licensing flight crew members, such as pilots, flight engineers and flight navigators, air traffic controllers, aeronautical station operators, maintenance technicians and flight dispatchers. Today we launched a new tool that will enable states to verify Electronic Personnel Licences (EPL), which recently became a recognized alternative to hard copies. On 7 March 2023, changes to the technical standards that came into force on 3 November 2022  gave states the option of issuing an EPL. Among the requirements, however, is that the EPLs must be verifiable online and offline, without imposing an undue burden on another State.

Australia, Brazil and China informed ICAO of the implementation of EPL systems in their States, which are currently used domestically. These three countries also expressed their intention to use EPLs for international operations.

To avoid the proliferation of verification systems, these States worked closely with ICAO to develop a common verification tool that will enable the verification of ICAO-compliant EPLs by other States, to ensure compliance with the new verification requirements.

The initial verification system is composed of a standard verification template for offline verification, an automated online verification query that is triggered by a QR code scan, and a mechanism for completing an online verification manually. The system currently supports the verification of Chinese licences initially, with Australian and Brazilian licences to follow shortly.

As verification systems evolve, ICAO will continue to work with these and other States to ensure a high level of standardization, interoperability, data security, and data privacy.

ICAO publishes Annexes that outline the Standards and Recommend practices (SARPs) expected from Member State.  Annexes elaborate on SARPs and give insight into how/what States must do to achieve them. Establishing and maintaining international SARPs, and Procedures for Air Navigation (PANS) is fundamental to the Convention on International Civil Aviation–Chicago Convention–and a core aspect of ICAO’s mission and role.

There are more than 12,000 SARPs across the 19 annexes and five PANS to the Convention, which continuously evolve with the latest developments and innovations. SARPs and PANS are essential to ICAO Member States and other stakeholders. They provide the basis for harmonized global aviation safety and efficiency in the air and on the ground, the worldwide standardization of functional and performance requirements of air navigation facilities and services, and the orderly development of air transport. 

Annex 1 contains the SARPS that have been adopted as the minimum standards for personnel licensing that are applicable to all applicants for and, on renewal, to all holders of the licences and ratings specified herein.

In principle, amendments affecting existing licensing specifications apply to all applicants for, and holders of, licences but, in considering their application to existing holders of licences, the assessment, if necessary, by re-examination of the knowledge, experience and proficiency of individual licence holders, it is left to the discretion of Contracting States.