UN aviation body eyes guidelines to tackle cybercrime

ICAO and S'pore will also jointly develop and conduct a course on aviation security

The United Nations' civil aviation body is looking to set general guidelines and recommendations to help countries deal with the growing threat of cybercrime to aviation safety.

Singapore, which is a key contributor and supporter of the International Civil Aviation Organisation's (ICAO's) policies, is likely to be closely involved in discussions surrounding the guidelines.

ICAO council president Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu said this during the World Civil Aviation Chief Executives Forum held at the Singapore Aviation Academy yesterday.

The need for an effective and collaborative global response to cyber threat is critical "to protect our networks, our infrastructure and our customers", said Mr Aliu.

The event was attended by more than 160 industry leaders from over 80 countries.

Second Minister for Transport Ng Chee Meng, who was speaking at the same event, noted the vulnerability of the aviation industry to cyber attacks. The recent Petya ransomware attack had infected airport systems and caused flight disruptions, he said.

"We will have to pay much more attention to aviation security. We need to increase our capabilities to ensure safe and secure air travel for passengers, even as we facilitate aviation growth" Mr Ng said.

MORE FOCUS ON AVIATION SAFETY

We will have to pay much more attention to aviation security. We need to increase our capabilities to ensure safe and secure air travel for passengers, even as we facilitate aviation growth.

SECOND MINISTER FOR TRANSPORT NG CHEE MENG

Human capital development and knowledge sharing will be critical, he added.

Singapore, a key contributor in this area, deepened its commitment yesterday with the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with ICAO - inked by Mr Ng and Mr Aliu - to jointly develop and conduct a course on aviation security, targeted at civil aviation heads.

Seven runs of the course will be conducted at locations worldwide from next year to 2020.

The programme will equip aviation leaders with the latest developments on the international civil aviation security framework and its underlying principles, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) said.

The CAAS also inked a separate MOU with the Singapore University of Technology and Design for research collaboration. The partnership will focus on aviation and air traffic management topics, such as international aviation governance and aviation technologies.

Despite the challenges facing the industry, the outlook for the sector is bright, both Mr Ng and Mr Aliu said.

Last year, global passenger traffic hit 3.8 billion passengers, a 6 per cent increase over the previous year.

The sector was responsible for generating 67.3 million jobs worldwide, while contributing US$2.7 trillion (S$3.7 trillion) to global gross domestic product, Mr Aliu said.

For the industry to continue to do well, governments and stakeholders must continue to develop infrastructure and skills, he stressed.

This is especially critical in the Asia-Pacific where demand for air travel is growing strong, he said.

Lauding Singapore's efforts, especially in the area of manpower development, Mr Aliu said: "I would want to see all our active member states being able to do that."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 13, 2017, with the headline 'UN aviation body eyes guidelines to tackle cybercrime'. Print Edition | Subscribe