The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC) is a global mechanism for regulating the allocation of the scarce radio frequency resource to various users. The Conferences are held every three to four years to review, and if necessary, revise the Radio Regulations, the international treaty governing the use of the radio-frequency spectrum and the geostationary-satellite and non-geostationary-satellite orbits.

Representatives from three ICAO Regions, Europe, Middle East and North Atlantic, met for a preparatory workshop in the ICAO EUR/NAT Regional Office in Paris, to discuss joint plans on how to present and defend the current and future civil aviation needs at the upcoming World Radiocommunication Conference planned for 2019 (ITU WRC-2019). The discussions were based on the ICAO position for ITU WRC-2019, approved by the ICAO Council following a global consultation with all ICAO States.

The Workshop highlighted that air transport plays a major role in driving sustainable economic and social development in the world. The safety of air operations is dependent on the availability of reliable communication and navigation services. Current and future communications, navigation and surveillance/air traffic management (CNS/ATM) systems are highly dependent upon the availability of sufficient, suitably protected radio spectrum that can support the high integrity and availability requirements associated with aeronautical safety systems. Spectrum requirements for current and future aeronautical communications, navigation and surveillance systems are specified in the ICAO Spectrum Strategy and included in the ICAO Global Air Navigation Plan.

The continuous increase in air traffic movements as well as the additional requirement for accommodating new and emerging applications such as Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems is placing an increased demand on both the aviation regulatory and air traffic management mechanisms. As a result, the airspace is becoming more complex and the demand for frequency assignments (and consequential spectrum allocations) is increasing. While some of this demand can be met through improved spectral efficiency of existing radio systems in frequency bands currently allocated to aeronautical services, it is inevitable that these frequency bands may need to be increased or additional aviation spectrum allocations may need to be agreed upon to meet this demand.

It is crucial that ICAO Member States support the ICAO ITU WRC2019 Position in their national and regional preparatory meetings and at the ITU Conference.

For more information on the ICAO Global Air Navigation Plan please check the ICAO website at: www. icao.int/eurnat

This article was originally written for the ICAO EUR/NAT Office’s Newsletter (Issue 2) on October 2017. A full list of their newsletters can be found here