ICAO’s Innovation Fair highlights the critical importance of frontier technologies to aviation sustainability and resilience


Demonstrating how emerging technologies can deliver a sustainable and resilient recovery for the international air transport system, the 2022 ICAO Innovation Fair set the stage for the opening of the UN agency’s 41st Assembly today. Taking place in Montréal, this special three-day event attracted over 1,400 attendees, and featured traditional and new players who are delivering a technological revolution in aviation worldwide. An exhibition included prototypes of cutting-edge aircraft types and other latest air transport technologies and solutions, all of which were highly appreciated by the attending government and industry delegates.

Pointing to the pandemic recovery, climate change, digitalization, and cybersecurity, as key priorities in his opening remarks, ICAO Council President Salvatore Sciacchitano underscored the critical importance of new technologies, materials, and methods in driving the innovation now urgently needed for the decarbonization and resilience of civil aviation.

“One of the key intentions of the ICAO 2022 Innovation Fair was to provide a prominent platform for innovations and initiatives that will contribute to a more resilient future for the air transport sector,” the President said. He highlighted that “the COVID-19 pandemic has led to proposals for numerous technical and policy solutions to help reconnect the world in its aftermath, but a more systematic approach to disaster risk identification and management will be necessary to circumvent the compound impacts of multiple disasters. This is a pre-requisite to building a resilient future for our sector.”

The 12 Innovation Fair Panels focused on different facets of innovation and their deployment for international civil aviation, addressing regulatory challenges, urban air mobility integration, aviation sustainability, incubator programmes, artificial intelligence, behavioural science, implementation support and capacity building. The second day of the Fair was specifically dedicated to aviation security and facilitation topics that hold the promise of secure, seamless, and contactless travel.

Closing the Fair yesterday, ICAO Secretary General Juan Carlos Salazar celebrated the dynamic range of technologies and ideas that the event had explored, and launched a youth-focussed innovation competition to highlight the pivotal importance of inspiring the next generation of aviation professionals in terms of achieving the objectives explored at the event.

“This year’s Innovation Fair has highlighted an array of challenges in bringing aviation innovations from concept to reality, both for innovators and for regulators. Many of these factors are common across jurisdictions, and the panel discussions brought this to the fore,” Mr. Salazar said. “This highlights the need for regulators to operate in new and creative ways to productively engage with innovators, and new ways to communicate with a broader range of stakeholders.”

ICAO Council President Salvatore Sciacchitano and Secretary General Juan Carlos Salazar joined Participants for Day 1 in touring the Innovation Exhibition, and heard a series of expert panels discuss the importance of accelerator and incubator programmes, the regulatory challenges of adopting cutting-edge technologies into the aviation ecosystem, urban air mobility, and the latest uses of flight data to drive improved emissions reductions and greener flights, among other topics.