Publication spotlight: The ICAO Annexes to the Convention on International Civil Aviation


Annexes set out the Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) expected from State signatories to the ICAO convention. They elaborate on the SARPs and give insight into what and how States must do to achieve them. The establishment and maintenance of international SARPs, and Procedures for Air Navigation (PANS), are fundamental tenets of the Convention on International Civil Aviation–Chicago Convention–and a core aspect of ICAO’s mission and role.

ICAO manages over 12,000 SARPs across the 19 annexes and five PANS to the Convention, constantly evolving with the latest developments and innovations. SARPs and PANS are essential to the 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. ICAO gives access to Annexes 1-19 with the latest updates in its Annexes to the Convention on International Civil Aviation bundle. Available on the ICAO Store, the annual subscription comes in a digital package–perfect for those who want to be up to date with the latest developments. Have a glimpse of what ICAO offers in this bundle:

Annex 1 – Personnel Licensing: Annex 1 provides Standards and Recommended for licensing flight crew members, such as pilots, flight engineers and flight navigators, air traffic controllers, aeronautical station operators, maintenance technicians and flight dispatchers. Related training manuals guide States for the scope and depth of training curricula to ensure that the confidence in safe air navigation is maintained as intended by the Convention and Annex 1. These training manuals also guide the training of other aviation personnel such as aerodrome emergency crews, flight operations officers, radio operators and individuals involved in other related disciplines.

Annex 2 – Rules of the Air: Annex 2 contains the general rules, including visual flight and instrument flight rules. They apply without exception over the high seas and national territories to the extent that they do not conflict with the states’ overflown regulations.

Annex 3 – Meteorological Service for International Air Navigation: The object of the meteorological service outlined in the third annex is to contribute to air navigation safety, efficiency, and regularity. This is achieved by providing necessary meteorological information to operators, flight crew members, air traffic services units, search and rescue teams, airport management and others concerned with aviation.

Annex 4 – Aeronautical Charts: The Standards Recommended Practices and explanatory notes contained in Annex 4 define the obligations of States to make certain available ICAO aeronautical chart types and specify chart coverage, format, identification, and content, including standardized symbology and colour use. The aim is to satisfy the need for uniformity and consistency in providing aeronautical charts containing appropriate defined quality information.

Annex 5 – Units of Measurement to be Used in Air and Ground Operations: The question of the units of measurement used in international civil aviation goes back as far as the origin of ICAO itself. At the International Civil Aviation Conference held in Chicago in 1944, the importance of a standard system of measurements was realized, and a resolution was adopted calling on States to use the metric system as the primary international standard. Annex 5 contains the Standards and Recommended Practices for dimensional units used in air and ground operations. It also explains the standard application of units of measurement and termination of the use of non-SI units. Attachments to the Annex contain material describing the development of the International System of Units (SI) and guidance on the application of the SI, conversion factors, Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), and presentation of the date and time in all-numeric form.

Annex 6 – Operation of Aircraft: Annex 6 is one of the ICAO bestsellers. The essence of this Annex is that aircraft operating in international air transport must be as standardized as possible to ensure the highest levels of safety and efficiency. It includes three parts: International Commercial Airport Transport and International General Aviation for aeroplanes, and International Operations for helicopters. Part 1 addresses flight operations, performance using limitations, aeroplane instruments, equipment, and flight documents, and more. It also includes Amendment 44, 45, 46, and Corrigendum to Amendment 44. Part 2 addresses flight preparation and in-flight procedures, performance operating limitations, aeroplane instruments and equipment. Part 3 consists of the Standards and Recommended Practices in Annex 6 that apply to all helicopters engaged in international commercial air transport operations or international generation aviation operations.

Annex 7 – Aircraft Nationality and Registration Marks: How are aircraft classified and identified, and how can you tell aircraft nationality? These are two of the questions answered in ICAO 7th Annex, which deals with aircraft nationality and registration marks. This Annex sets standards for letters, numbers, and other graphic symbols used in the nationality and registration marks. It spells out where the characters will be on different airborne vehicles, such as lighter-than-air aircraft and heavier-than-air aircraft. It also contains Standards adopted by ICAO as the minimum standards for displaying marks to indicate appropriate nationality and registration determined to comply with Article 20 of the Convention.

Annex 8 – Airworthiness of Aircraft: Annex 8 includes broad standards which define, for application by the national airworthiness authorities, the minimum basis for the recognition by States of Certificates of Airworthiness for flights of aircraft of other States into and over their territories. This Annex is divided into four parts. Part 1 includes definitions; Part 2 deals with procedures for certification and continuing aircraft airworthiness; Part 3 has technical requirements for the accreditation of large new aeroplane designs; Part IV deals with helicopters.

Annex 9 – Facilitation: Annex 9 provides a frame of reference for planners and managers of international airport operations, describing maximum limits on obligations of industry and minimum facilities to be provided by governments. It also specifies methods and procedures for carrying out clearance operations in such a manner as to meet the twin objectives of effective compliance with the laws of States and productivity for the operators, airports and government inspection agencies involved.

Annex 10 – Aeronautical Telecommunications: As one of ICAO bestsellers, Annex 10 covers three of the most complex and essential elements of international civil aviation: aeronautical communications, navigation, and surveillance. It is also divided into five volumes: Radio Navigational Aids, Communication Procedures including PANS status, Communication Systems (Part 1: Digital Data Communication Systems and Part 2: Voice Communication Systems), Surveillance Radar and Collision Avoidance Systems, and Aeronautical Radio Frequency Spectrum Utilization. The five volumes included in this Annex contain Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs), Procedures for Air Navigation Services (PANS) and guidance material on aeronautical communication, navigation, and surveillance systems. 

Annex 11 – Air Traffic Services: Control of air traffic was almost unknown in 1944. Today, air traffic control, flight information, and alerting services, which comprise air traffic services, rank high among the necessary ground support facilities that ensure air traffic safety and efficient operation worldwide. Annex 11 defines air traffic services and specifies the worldwide Standards and Recommended Practices applicable in providing these services. As described in Annex 11, air traffic services aim to prevent collisions between aircraft, whether taxiing on the manoeuvring area, taking off, landing, en route or in the holding pattern at the destination aerodrome. The Annex also deals with expediting and maintaining an orderly flow of air traffic and providing advice and information for the safe and efficient conduct of flights and alerting service for aircraft in distress. ICAO provisions call for establishing flight information centres and air traffic control units to achieve these objectives.

Annex 12 – Search and Rescue: Search and rescue services are organized to respond to persons apparently in distress and need help. Prompted by the need to rapidly locate and rescue survivors of aircraft accidents, a set of internationally agreed Standards and Recommended Practices has been incorporated in ICAO’s Annex 12 – Search and Rescue (SAR). This document is complemented by a three-part Search and Rescue Manual dealing with SAR organization, management, and procedures. It sets forth the provisions for establishing, maintaining, and operating search and rescue services by the ICAO Contracting States in their territories and over the high seas. The Annex also details the organization and cooperative principles appropriate to effective SAR operations, outlines necessary preparatory measures and sets forth proper operating procedures for SAR services in actual emergencies.

Annex 13 – Aircraft Accident and Incident Investigation: When an aircraft accident or serious incidents occur, a properly conducted investigation is crucial to identify the causal factors of these incidents. Annex 13 emphasizes this point and states that the objective of investigating an accident or incident is prevention. The ninth edition of Annex 13 consists of eight chapters, an appendix and four attachments. It also provides the international requirements for the investigation of aircraft accidents and incidents. The document serves as a reference for people worldwide who may be called on, often without any lead time, to deal with the many aspects involved in investigating an aircraft accident or serious incident.

Annex 14 – Aerodromes: Annex 14, one of ICAO bestsellers, extends from planning airports and heliports to such details as switchover times for secondary power supply. From civil engineering to illumination engineering, from providing sophisticated rescue and firefighting equipment to simple requirements for keeping airports clear of birds. The impact of these numerous subjects on this Annex is compounded by the rapidly changing industry which airports must support. New aircraft models, increased aircraft operations, operations in lower visibility and technological advances in airport equipment combine to make Annex 14 one of the most rapidly changing Annexes. The document is divided into two volumes: Aerodromes Design and Operations and Heliports. The first volume includes Standards and Recommended Practices that prescribe the physical characteristics and obstacle limitations surface provided at aerodromes and heliports for the second volume.

Annex 15 – Aeronautical Information Services: ICAO’s 15th Annex aims to satisfy the need for uniformity and consistency in providing aeronautical information/data required for operational use by international civil aviation. The document defines how an aeronautical information service receives and originates, collates, and assembles, edits, formats, publishes, stores and distributes specified aeronautical information and data. One of the least known and most vital roles in support of international civil aviation is filled by the aeronautical information service (AIS). The object of the aeronautical information service is to ensure the flow of information necessary for the safety, regularity, and efficiency of international air navigation.

Annex 16 – Environmental Protection: Annex 16 further explains protecting the environment from aircraft noise and engine emissions in its two volumes. Annex 16 dealing with various aspects of aircraft noise problems was adopted in 1971 based on recommendations of the 1969 Special Meeting on Aircraft Noise in the Vicinity of Aerodromes. These aspects included in this Annex are procedures for describing and measuring aircraft noise, human tolerance to aircraft noise, aircraft noise certification, criteria for establishing aircraft noise abatement procedures, land use control, and ground run-up noise abatement procedures.

Annex 17 – Security: Annex 17 sets out the basis for the ICAO civil aviation security programme and seeks to safeguard civil aviation and its facilities against acts of unlawful interference. The document contains Standards and Recommended Practices concerned with the security of international air transport and is regularly amended to address the evolving threat. The dramatic increase in crimes of violence, which adversely affected civil aviation safety during the late 1960s, resulted in an Extraordinary Session of the ICAO Assembly in June 1970. One of the resolutions of that Assembly called for specifications in existing or new Annexes to the Chicago Convention to specifically deal with the problem of unlawful interference with the illegal seizure of aircraft. Following the work of the Air Navigation Commission, the Air Transport Committee, and the Committee on Unlawful Interference, Standards and Recommended Practices on Security were adopted by the Council on 22 March 1974 and designated as Annex 17 – Security. The Annex is maintained under constant review to ensure that the specifications are current and influential. Since this document sets minimum standards for aviation security worldwide, it is subjected to scrutiny before undergoing any changes, additions, or deletions. Since its publication, Annex 17 has been amended ten times in response to needs identified by States and is kept under review by the Aviation Security (AVSEC) Panel.

Annex 18 – The Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air: Annex 18 specifies the broad Standards and Recommended Practices to enable dangerous goods to be carried safely. This document contains relatively stable material requiring only infrequent amendment using the normal Annex amendment process. It also makes binding upon the Contracting States the provisions of the Technical Instructions, which contain the very detailed and numerous instructions necessary for the correct handling of dangerous cargo. These require frequent updating as developments occur in the chemical, manufacturing, and packaging industries. ICAO recognizes the importance of freight and adopted Annex 18 and the associated document Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air to ensure such cargo can be carried.

Annex 19 – Safety Management: Annex 19 explains overarching provisions applicable to safety management functions related to, or indirect support of, the safe operation of aircraft. It highlights the importance of safety management at the State level across multiple aviation domains. Provisions for State Safety Oversight and the collection, analysis, exchange, and protection of information were incorporated to complement the State Safety Programme (SSP) and the Safety Management System (SMS) frameworks found in this Annex.

ICAO has two other packages available in its store: Air Traffic Management, which includes 16 publications such as Doc 44, Annexes 11 and 12, and the ultimate 2-in-1 bundle, which gives access to both bundles in one digital package. Since purchasing the publications separately does not entitle customers to subsequent editions updates automatically, ICAO’s bundles are an excellent way to be up to date. To learn more about ICAO Annexes to the Convention on International Civil Aviation, click here.