In response to the ICAO Council’s decision that the ICAO Secretariat establish a fact-finding investigation into events surrounding the apparent forced diversion of Ryanair flight FR4978, official Requests for Information (RFIs) have now been issued to countries with direct ties to the events. Belarus and Poland had already provided some preliminary details. Information has also been sought from Greece, Ireland, Lithuania, and Switzerland. The commercial passenger aircraft flying in Belarus airspace on Sunday, 23 May 2021.
An interim report will be presented to the ICAO Council by the end of its current (June) session. As RFI responses are still being sought, the investigation is ongoing, with a report expected at the Council’s next session, which begins on 13 September. The ICAO fact-finding investigation is being led by its Aviation Security team, with additional support from experts in the areas of Aircraft Operations, Air Navigation, and International Aviation Law.
At a special meeting that convened after the event took place, the ICAO Council underlined the importance of establishing the facts of what happened, and of understanding whether there had been any breach by any ICAO Member State of international aviation law, including the Convention on International Civil Aviation (Chicago Convention) and its Annexes.
Recalling Article 55 (e) of the Chicago Convention, the Council decided to undertake a fact-finding investigation of this event, and in this connection requested the ICAO Secretariat to prepare an interim report to the Council for a subsequent meeting of the current session, presenting the available facts and relevant legal instruments.
The Council also called upon all ICAO Member States and other relevant stakeholders to collaborate with this fact-finding investigation in the interests of ensuring the safety and security of civil aviation, and offered the assistance and expertise of ICAO in the pursuit of this endeavor.
“The Council has therefore decided that all relevant facts should be officially established through an ICAO investigation conducted by the ICAO Secretariat,” emphasized ICAO Council President Salvatore Sciacchitano. ICAO Secretary General Dr. Fang Liu responded to the Council’s decision during the meeting and assured the full support and cooperation of the Secretariat in implementing this decision.