1946: PICAO’s First regional air navigation meetings


From the very beginning of PICAO`s work, it became quickly clear that some of the technical problems confronting international civil aviation could be best solved on a regional basis among those states concerned in a given region. Recognizing the regional differences, the Provisional International Civil Aviation (PICAO) divided the world into ten flying or air navigation regions during the first Session of the Committee on Air Navigation held from 2 October 1945 to 27 November 1945 and the second Session of the Interim Council held from 15 October to 30 November 1945. Regional arrangements or special regional organizations, called Regional Route Service Organizations, would be necessary to plan special measures of cooperation on air navigation facilities, to consider the application and interpretation of standards and practices to meet situations particular to a given geographical area, and to study and develop local operating practices supplementing the international standards.


PICAO Route Service Organizations were constituted as follows: a general committee for each organization comprised of representatives of interested States; technical committees comprised of experts of the States attending; a permanent secretariat provided by PICAO; and a secretariat provided by the State hosting the meeting of the Route Service Organization.


It was not desirable to define with exactitude the boundaries for Route Service Organizations. Overlapping of areas was necessary because Route Service Organizations were developed to facilitate the implementation of PICAO Standards by local consultation about particular technical problems affecting international civil aviation in certain areas within which the international air routes appeared to be well defined and the problems distinct. All geographic areas of the world were not covered in the description of Route Service Organizations, as it was assumed that in these areas the international route service activities would be handled by the nation through which the routes passe in accordance with the procedures and practices established by PICAO.


The ten Route Service Organization Areas were defined as follows: the North Atlantic area, European-Mediterranean area, the Middle East area, the Caribbean area; the South East Asia area, the South Atlantic area, the South Pacific area, the North Pacific area, the South American area, and the African-Indian Ocean area.


During the 16th Session of the ICAO Council, held from 15 May to 15 July 1952, the number of air navigation regions was reduced from ten to eight, with the merger of the North and South Pacific regions into one Pacific region, and the same for the South American and South Atlantic regions.


St Patrick’s Hall, Dublin Castle

March 1946

First Regional Route Service Conference

The Regional Route Service Conferences called later Regional Air Navigation Meetings (RAN) would be held for each region or covering two or more regions.


Due to the existence of military facilities useful for international civil aviation and their probable discontinuance due to the cessation of the war hostilities, early coordinating actions were considered desirable and necessary for four of the ten regions: the North Atlantic, European-Mediterranean area, the Caribbean area, and the Near and Middle East. Because of the drastic curtailment of military air transport services in the North Atlantic, the first regional meeting was held in St Patrick’s Hall of Dublin Castle, Dublin, Ireland, on from 4 to 27 March 1946.


The Dublin meeting became the forerunner of a series of regional air navigation meetings held during the PICAO years. This Regional Air Navigation Meeting (originally called Route Service Meeting) was divided into Committees on Communications, Air Traffic Control, Meteorology, Aerodromes and Ground Aids, and Search and Rescue. Two special Committees of particular importance were also set up to study, respectively, the content and characteristics of a North Atlantic Route Manual, and the constitution and functions of a regional office. The Manual Committee laid down the general plan for the Manual, making recommendations for the format and arrangement. Each of the technical committees elaborated portions of the text of the Manual. The Committee considered PICAO should be responsible for the actual preparation of the Manual.  This Manual shall meet the needs of flight crews and ground personnel and contain the text of all procedures peculiar to the North Atlantic. It shall also indicate, by maps, diagrams, or descriptive texts, the sites and characteristics of the facilities useful to operations in the North Atlantic. The Committee recommended, in particular, that a sheet be prepared for each aerodrome, showing on one side of the page a medium scale chart of the procedures for the aerodrome and its approaches and, on the other side, a large-scale chart of the actual landing area.


The “ICAO Regional Manual, North Atlantic” was the first of a series of publications planned for each of the ICAO Regions. It contains information required for air transport operations in the area, including lists of the navigational, communications, search and rescue, and meteorological facilities available to aircraft flying the North Atlantic, the characteristics of land and water aerodromes designated for international use, examples of instruments approach and landing charts for use in bad weather conditions, and a variety of other subjects.


When the series of Regional Manuals would be completed, it will cover the major portion of the world’s surface, making available in simple and compact form the information essential for international flight. The second manual to be published would cover the European-Mediterranean Region.


The second meeting was convened in April 1946 in Paris at the request of France. Although Cuba would have been the ideal choice for the Caribbean meeting, this State was not yet a member of ICAO; the third meeting was therefore convened in Washington, DC, in August 1946. As regards the first meeting in the Middle East (MID), many factors were taken into consideration to choose Egypt, i.e. the strategic position of that country in relation to Europe, Africa and Asia, the international position of Egypt from the standpoint of air transportation demonstrated by the fact that many regular air routes pass over its territory, and the experience of the Egyptian authorities in international air transport operations in the Middle East.


Regional Air Navigation Meetings (up to 1953)

North Atlantic Region


March 1946

European-Mediterranean Region


April 1946

Caribbean Region


August 1946

Middle East Region


October 1946

South Pacific Region


February 1947

South American Region


June 1947

South Atlantic Region

Rio de Janeiro

July 1947

North Atlantic Region (2nd Meeting)


May 1948

European-Mediterranean Region (2nd Meeting)


May 1948

North Pacific Region


July 1948

South-East Asia Region

New Delhi

November 1948

African-Indian Ocean Region


March 1949

Caribbean Region (2nd Meeting)


April 1950

Middle East Region (2nd Meeting)


October 1950

European-Mediterranean Region (3rd Meeting)


February 1952

South American/South Atlantic Region

Buenos Aires

October 1951

2nd South-East Asia and Limited 2nd South Pacific Region


January 1953

2nd African-Indian Ocean Region

Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary islands

November 1953


Five RAN meetings were held during PICAO’s years. Philatelic material was rather limited during those years, as the Provisional Organization lasted only for twenty months. It was the original intention of PICAO to establish an office in each air navigation region, and at the time ICAO replaced the Provisional Organization, there were offices in Dublin for the North Atlantic Region; Paris for the European-Mediterranean Region; Cairo for the Middle East Region, and a temporary mission in Melbourne, Australia, for the South-West Pacific Region. A regional office was usually established after a regional air navigation meeting being held in that region. On the recommendation of the First Assembly of ICAO (May 1947), the Council reviewed the system of ICAO representation to States; it was decided that increased efficiency and economy would result if the number of ICAO regional offices did not exceed five, each ICAO Representative being accredited to specific Contracting States. In 1951, five offices were in function: Cairo, Lima, Melbourne, Montreal (for the states and territories in North America), and Paris. ICAO's North American, Central American and Caribbean Regional Office was shifted to Mexico City on 14 February 1957. It is to be noted that the Melbourne office was moved in 1955 to Bangkok, Thailand.


Later, a sixth regional office was established in 1963 in Dakar, Senegal; the Eastern African Office (the seventh office) was opened in Nairobi, Kenya in December 1983. The Asia Pacific (APAC) Regional Sub-Office was inaugurated at Beijing, China on 27 June 2013.


Among the notable achievements of PICAO, and later ICAO, as an international organization, its regional organization has demonstrated to be an essential machinery countering any thread of isolationism such as that occurred soon after the first world war, when it had to carry devotion to a one-world concept of cooperation for setting international standards and regulations in civil aviation among its member states.


PICAO Route Service Organizations.


Cover page of the Manual for the North Atlantic Region. Spanish version.


Cover page of the Manual for the European-Mediterranean Region.