The Air Navigation Commission


The ICAO Air Navigation Commission (ANC) considers and recommends Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) and Procedures for Air Navigation Services (PANS) for the safety and efficiency of international civil aviation, which are adopted or approved by the ICAO Council. Since its establishment, the Commission has considered and recommended the development of SARPs in 16 of the 19 Annexes to the Chicago Convention and five PANS. Such provisions promote safety, regularity and efficiency of international civil aviation. Facilitation (Annex 9) and Security (Annex 17) are under the purview of the Air Transport Committee (ATC), whereas Environmental Protection (Annex 16) is under the purview of the ICAO Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP).


On 7 December 1944, the Chicago Conference concluded with the signature of a Final Act that was a formal and official record summarizing the work. One of its instruments was the Interim Agreement on International Civil Aviation which was opened for signature. Its purpose was that of a bridging mechanism to permit a beginning of the global effort while awaiting the ratification of the Convention by the 26th State. This Interim Agreement was accepted by the 26th State on 6 June 1945; in fact, 30 acceptances had already been received by the US State Department as of that date. Thus, the Provisional International Civil Aviation Organization (PICAO) was born on that date. PICAO, which had only advisory powers, was to remain in existence until the permanent organization was created, but its life in any case was restricted to three years. PICAO had two governing bodies: the Interim Assembly and the Interim Council (Article I, Section 2 of the Interim Agreement).


The powers and duties of the Interim Council are described in Article III, Section 5 of the Interim Agreement. So, among those, any subsidiary working groups, which may be considered desirable, shall be established; among those, there shall be a Committee on Air Navigation and a Committee on Air Transport; if a Member State so desires, it shall have the right to appoint a representative on any such interim committee or working group.


In Part I of the Final Act of the Chicago Conference (i.e., Work of the Conference), Chapter II on the Draft Technical Annexes, the International Civil Aviation Conference resolved that the participating States undertake to forward to the Government of the United States (or PICAO if established) by 1 May 1945 any recommendations which they may have for necessary additions, deletions or amendments to the Annexes prepared at the Chicago Conference. The US Government or PICAO shall transmit such suggestions to the other participating States in anticipation of meetings of the technical committees to be established by PICAO.


The 25 Member States of the International Commission for Air Navigation (ICAN) also undertook to submit by 1 May 1945 their recommendations with regards to any changes that they might think it necessary to make to the text of the draft Annexes. Moreover those States also asked the ICAN Secretary General to enter on the Agenda of the Organization the examination of the twelve technical Annexes of Chicago with a view to studying any amendments that it might be necessary to make in the texts of these drafts in order for them to be subsequently adopted by the ICAN in place of the present Annexes to the Paris Convention; the sub-commissions and committees of the ICAN were accordingly convened in April and May 1945 to undertake this study and met at the seat of the Commission in Paris.


So, substantial groundwork had already been done awaiting action by the Interim Council. The emphasis was on arrangements for the provision of adequate air navigation facilities and for setting up air safety standards.


In 1949, the ANC held its first meetings in the Council Chamber, which was located at that time in the Sun Life Building. In the background, the flags of 48 Members States at that time.

As the technical element of PICAO, the Committee on Air Navigation (or Air Navigation Committee, ANC) was established by the Interim Council on 28 August 1945 and held its first meeting on Tuesday 2 October 1945 in the Committee Room No. 1, located on the 10th floor of the Dominion Square Building, Montréal; this first Session ended on Tuesday 27 November 1945. Directed and coordinated by the Air Navigation Committee, a number of technical subcommittees, composed of specialists from member states and of observers from organizations interested in international civil aviation and assisted by the Organization’s secretariat, were set up to consider the recommended practices for air navigation. During the ANC meeting held on 29 October 1945, the ANC members felt that the objectionable prefix sub (in the designation of subcommittees, a term derived from the Chicago Convention) should be overcome. Therefore, the term Division was suggested, which would imply a relatively high organizational status and at the same time indicate strong connection with the Committee. By decision of the Interim Council on 30 November 1945, the technical subcommittees or working groups were renamed Divisions and their meetings should thus be named Divisional. This term is still used today for some meetings, e.g., Accident Investigation and Prevention (AIG) Divisional Meeting or Meteorology (MET) Divisional Meeting.


Thus the 11 Divisions established under the responsibility of the Air Navigation Committee met at intervals, from the September-October 1945 period, to discuss the changes to be made in the standards and to recommend what action was required in their specific field of interest. In addition, a Special Radio Technical Division was convened in Montreal on 30 October 1946 to appraise wartime communications and navigational devices and technologies that might be adaptable to civil needs.


The Recommendations for Standards, Practices and Procedures drawn up by the technical divisions were subsequently approved by the PICAO Council. Although PICAO had no mandatory powers, the standards were presented to the various member states of PICAO for adoption in their national regulations. By the time the first meeting of the Interim Assembly opened on 21 May 1946, nine of the eleven divisions reporting to the Air Navigation Committee had produced recommendations.


The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) was officially born on 4 April 1947, thirty days after the Chicago Convention had been ratified by the required twenty-six states. According to Article 54, the Council adopts the International Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) designated as Annexes to the Convention. The Air Navigation Commission (ANC) is the key player as the latter Commission considers and recommends to the Council the adoption and modifications to the Annexes of the Convention (Article 57). According to Article 56 of this Convention, the Air Navigation Commission shall be composed of twelve members appointed by the Council from among persons nominated by contracting States; these persons shall have suitable qualifications and experience in the science and practice of aeronautics. Although Commission members are nominated by specific ICAO Member States and appointed by the Council, they do not represent the interest of any particular State or Region, but rather are expected to act in their expert capacity in the interest of the entire international civil aviation community; Sharing its responsibilities with ICAO’s Air Navigation Bureau (ANB), the Commission is served by the principles of separation and independence as well as a commitment to cooperation and collaboration in every responsibility it undertakes. The work of the air navigation and air transport divisions continued as such after April 1947.


The Air Navigation Commission was to replace the PICAO-created Air Navigation Committee; but the new Commission was not established in 1947 with the creation of ICAO, as the American argument was that PICAO’s Air Navigation Committee was working well and any change would disrupt the Organization’s work; moreover, whereas the existing Committee was under direct control of the Council members, the new ANC would be more independent.


It was not until the Second Session of the Assembly (held in Geneva from 1 to 21 June 1948) that Resolution A2-8 recommended proceeding as may be feasible with the implementation of Articles 54(e) and 56 of the Convention and that the permanent ANC could enter into function in so far as practicable and legally permissible. Wanting to avoid a public confrontation, the leader of the American Delegation in Geneva, Mr. Rusell Adams, gave a small diner party, for Max Hymans (France), Henri Bouché (France), Frederick Tymms (UK) and a few others, at which a compromise was worked out; he dropped USA’s opposition on the creation of the ANC and in return accepted a resolution in which it was underlined that the Council would continue to have supervision and control over all aspects of the work of the Commission (This became Resolution A2-8). Thus, this agreement dropped all the barriers to the establishment of the Air Navigation Commission.


At the 4th Meeting of its 6th Session held on 1 February 1949, the ICAO Council adopted the following resolutions on the establishment of the Air Navigation Commission:

1.    An Air Navigation Commission of twelve members shall be established in accordance with the Council Resolution dated 5 October 1948.

2.    The Air Navigation Committee at its next meeting should consider and dispose all necessary business to facilitate the transfer of its functions to the Air Navigation Commission.

3.    Mr. W.J. Binaghi, Argentina, was appointed the first Chairman of the ANC.


At the same meeting, the nine candidates that had been nominated by the Contracting States at that time were appointed by the Council as the first members of the ANC:


Nominated by State



Mr. Walter Binaghi (Chairman)


Mr. J. N. F. Gomes


Mr. Stuart Graham


Mr. Y. C. Wu  


Mr. Claude Teyssier


Mr. J. van der Heijden


Mr. A. Hansen

United Kingdom

Mr. G. J. Warcup

United States of America

Mr. H. Walker Percy


For information, Mr. Walter Binaghi, as Chair of the Air Navigation Commission and later as President of the Council, guided the development, approval and application of the great majority of ICAO’s Annexes and directed the evolution of the Organization into a multicultural and global organization.


The Air Navigation Commission came into operation on 7 February 1949. At the first meeting of the ANC on that date (held in the Council Chamber of the  Sun Life Building), three vacancies in the Commission remained to be filled; the Commission reached its full membership of twelve for the first time in November 1956. The first President of the ANC, Mr. W.J. Binaghi, Argentina, was annually re-elected in the capacity of ANC Chairman until he assumed the position of President of the Council in April 1957 until 1976.


The number of members on the ANC increased from 12 to 21 by three successive amendments to Article 56 of the Convention, in 1971, 1989 and 2016. Amendments to the Chicago Convention raised the original membership as follows:


Increase to

Date and place of adoption

Assembly Resolution

Member States at the time of the Assembly

Date of entry into force

Member States at the date of entry into force


18th Session on 5 July 1971, signed at Vienna



19 December 1974



27th Session of the Assembly on 6 October 1989, signed at Montréal



18 April 2005



39st Session of the Assembly on 1 October 2016, signed at Montréal






The number of members on the ANC increased from 12 to 21 by three successive amendments to Article 56 of the Convention, in 1971, 1989 and 2016, as follows:

1.    To fifteen members. The text of Article 56 of the Chicago Convention was amended by the 18th Session of the Assembly (held in Vienna) in 1971.

The main reasons given for an increase were, inter alia,

a) The fact that the organization’s membership had more than doubled compared with the number of States participating in the Chicago Conference which had fixed the membership of the Commission at twelve;

b) The fact that in the past the membership of the Council had been increased from 21 to 27 and then to 30;

c) That the imbalance in the Commission, whose members came almost entirely from technically advanced States, could be reduced without displacing some present members, by an increase in the membership; and, finally,

d) The Assembly noted the inadequate geographic distribution on the Commission, with one continent (Africa) not represented at all.

As a result of its deliberations, the Assembly decided by 87 affirmative votes, without objection and three abstentions to increase the membership of the ANC from 12 to 15 and Resolution A18-2 was adopted accordingly. At that time, ICAO membership was 120, and when the Amendment entered into force on 19 December 1974, ICAO then had 129 Member States.

2.    To nineteen members. The text of Article 56 of the Chicago Convention was amended by the 27th Session of Assembly (held in Montréal) in 1989.

The main reasons given for an increase were, inter alia, that

a) Since the size of the Commission had last been increased in 1971, there had been a 30 per cent increase in the membership of ICAO and

b) That the number of members of the Council had increased on two occasions.

Furthermore, there had been a vast development of the technical and operational complexities in the field of civil aviation, the study of which required not only representation in the ANC of all Air Navigation Regions, but also appropriate representation of different aeronautical environments.

As a result of its deliberations, the Assembly decided to increase the membership of the ANC from 15 to 19 and Resolution A27-2 was adopted accordingly. At that time, ICAO membership was 161, and when the Amendment entered into force on 18 April 2005, ICAO then had 188 Member States.

3.    To twenty-one members. The text of Article 56 of the Chicago Convention was amended by the 39th Session of Assembly held in Montréal in 2016 (Resolution A39-6). Since the number of Contracting States to the Chicago Convention was 191, the two thirds of the total number of Contracting States to the Chicago Convention required for entry into force of the proposed amendment is 128.


During its 206th Session, on 20 November 2015, the Council considered a proposal made by Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chile, Dominican Republic, Egypt, India, Kenya, Libya, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania and Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of) (the co-sponsors) to amend Article 56 of the Convention on International Civil Aviation to increase the size of the ICAO Air Navigation Commission (ANC) from 19 to 23 seats. The Council agreed, in principle, that the size of the ANC should be increased. During its 207th Session on 11 March 2016, the Council decided to recommend to the Assembly that the membership of the ANC be increased from 19 to 21 members.

The co-sponsors summarized their justifications for an increase in the size of the ANC as follows: “Since the last increase occurring in October 1989, the size, structure and importance of international air transport for the national economies has significantly changed. As a result, more States than before are prepared to participate in the consideration and recommendation of Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) and Procedures for Air Navigation Services (PANS) for the safety and efficiency of international civil aviation. It is advisable for the Organization to bring on board significant new players with suitable qualifications and experience in the science and practice of aeronautics, to enable broad consensus on air navigation matters. Given that the ICAO membership now stands at 191 Member States, the Working Paper proposes that in order to ensure appropriate participation of experts with experience from different aeronautical environments, it would be desirable and useful to increase the size of ANC from 19 to 23 members.” Additionally, the justifications set forth in the paper, while acknowledging that ANC Members do not represent the interests of any particular State or region but work in the interest of the entire international civil aviation community, also included that the opportunity for Developing States to participate in the work of the ANC would provide a better understanding of the technological capabilities and challenges facing their respective regions which are potentially hindering States from implementing ICAO SARPs fully. Further, adding States to the ANC would enable the body to be made better aware of the economic and social impacts of the ANC work being undertaken and the challenges faced in its implementation in remote regions. The argument was also made that as more international organizations have been invited to participate in the work of the ANC to produce more comprehensive high-quality work, so should more Member States be provided with the opportunity to contribute towards the quality of the ANC work.

The 39th Session of the Assembly (held in Montréal in 2016) eventually approved the increase to 21 members.


Donated by Mexico to ICAO in 1992, the bronze sculpture Vuelo, by Leonardo Nierman, is located in the centre of the current ANC Chamber.

Ideas or proposals to amend the Annexes are discussed in a variety of meetings of expert panels, working and study groups (within their specific technical purview), regional meetings (for technical problems specific to a geographic region) and Air Navigation Conferences (for discussion of several interrelated technical issues), in conjunction with other international organizations (especially IATA), at the Assemblies, and in the permanent bodies of the Organization. The proposals then go to the ANC and ultimately are recommended to the Council, where they are approved or rejected. At ICAO, the consensus building is admirable and usually successful; however, it also implies that the implementation of some decisions is very time consuming.


In the fulfilment of its responsibilities, the ANC is assisted by the Air Navigation Bureau of the Secretariat. The rules and regulations that have governed the activities, conduct and operations of the ANC have continuously developed to keep in step with constant industry advancements, so as to reflect the rapidly evolving needs in the International Standards and Recommended Practices and to ensure the safety of passengers and goods, and the efficiency of the global air transport system.


In pursuance of Resolution A4-11 (4th Session of the Assembly held in Montréal from 30 May to 20 June 1950) on Composite Problems requiring for their Study Special Meetings of Limited Scope and Resolution A7-7 (7th Session of the Assembly held in Brighton from 16 June to 6 July 1953) on the Future Development of the Technical Work of the Organization through Air Navigation Meetings, the Air Navigation Commission gave considerable thought in 1954 to the Organization’s working methods in the technical field. Among the recommendations, it was agreed that greater use should be made of standing committees and panels of experts for preliminary studies of technical problems, and special meetings for the study of problems of a substantial interest. This was in line with Article 57 (related to the duties of the ANC) of the Chicago Convention: The Air Navigation Commission shall establish technical sub-commissions on which any Contracting State may be represented, if it so desires. The establishment of those Panels can be considered the very beginning of a great success story for ICAO.


In addition to the Commissioners, nine international Organizations have the status of Standing Observers to the ANC, without a vote on ICAO decisions; they are:

1.    Airports Council International (ACI);

2.    Civil Air Navigation Services Organization (CANSO);

3.    Fédération aéronautique internationale (FAI);

4.    International Air Transport Association (IATA);

5.    International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations (IAOPA);

6.    International Business Aviation Council (IBAC);

7.    International Coordinating Council of Aerospace Industries Associations (ICCAIA);

8.    International Federation of Air Traffic Controller's Associations (IFACTA); and

9.    International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations (IFALPA).

Some of these have their headquarters in Montréal, Canada to be closer physically to ICAO in order to represent their views, expertise, and interests to the Organization.


The Commissioners and some of the Standing Observers sit in the first circle of chairs in the ANC Chamber; the second circle of chairs is reserved for the other Standing Observers, Observers from various States, other international organizations and other participants at various meetings of the Commission. The Commissioners bear a pin showing a replica of the Vuelo artwork. The bronze sculpture Vuelo, i.e., flight, is located in the centre of the ANC Chamber and was donated by Mexico to ICAO in 1992 as a token of gratitude for the work of ICAO; designed by Leonardo Nierman, it represents a bird’s wing, a picture of absolute freedom, wind and poetry.


Arrival at ICAO, sketch by Olivier Carel, talented cartoonist, who attended many meetings in different ICAO Panels, Working Groups, Committees.

In June 1997, the Air Navigation Commission was awarded the Smiths Industries Laurel Award at the Global Navcom Conference in Cancun, Mexico, by the international air transport industry in recognition of “…the significant effort made by the ANC during the last three years to accelerate the pace of material essential to development of a co-coordinated, seamless and safe future air navigation environment”. It was in the form of a trophy and a cheque in the sum of US$5,000 from Smiths Industries Aerospace.


In a similar spirit of recognition, the Commission, at the fourteenth meeting of its 148th Session on 18 June 1998, created its own Laurel Award, to pay tribute to an individual or group for an outstanding contribution to the work of the ANC (through its panels, study groups, worldwide meetings, or any appropriate manner) and to furthering the safety, regularity and efficiency of international civil aviation. ICAO established a trust fund for the ANC Laurel Award, initially funded from the contributions provided by the Global Navcom Laurel Award. The ICAO ANC Laurel Award, normally given every two years, consists of a trophy, i.e., a reduced replica of the masterpiece Vuelo.


The ANC celebrated its 50th anniversary on 22 June 1999; the cachet of the cover commemorating this event shows the Laurel Award.


The ICAO ANC Laurel Award was bestowed in 1999 for the first time to Olivier Carel of the Direction de la Navigation Aérienne of France. In addition to his capacity to forge relationships with his colleagues from all backgrounds and cultures, Olivier Carel’s artistic talents as a draftsman and painter has given him a special aura at ICAO. On 27 October 2009, the Air Navigation Commission decided to rename the ANC Laurel Award the ANC Walter Binaghi Laurel Award, in order to honour its first President. More information on this Award can be obtained by clicking on the following link: The Laurel Award.


On 5 November 2015, the Air Navigation Commission celebrated its landmark 200th session in a special ceremony. Since ICAO’s inception, the ANC has realized over 12,000 international Standards and Recommended Practices supporting the international air transport network and has been an integral component of how States and industry find common ground, through ICAO, on their most pressing technical challenges. Challenges currently faced by the Commission include maintaining and improving aviation safety and air navigation efficiency while integrating increased traffic into the current aviation infrastructure, introducing advanced systems, as well as proactively identifying risks and devising mitigation measures, in accordance with the Global Aviation Safety Plan (GASP) and the Global Air Navigation Plan (GANP).


One of the first meetings of the Air Navigation Commission in the ICAO first Headquarters Building

on 21 September 1949. At centre is Walter Binaghi, ANC’s first Chairman and

later ICAO Council President from 1957 to 1976.


The ANC at the end of the 1950s.


Commercial cover sent to Mr. M. Agésilas, ANC Commissioner from France, who served from January 1959 to December 1964.

The French postmark is dated 7 December 1964, corresponding to the 20th anniversary of ICAO.


The ANC Chamber, as designed by Luc Plante and Richard Godbout, Architects,

for Provencher Roy et Associés Architectes.


50th Anniversary of the Air Navigation Commission (ANC) - 22 June 1999.

Souvenir cover autographed by Olivier Carel, first recipient of the ANC Laurel Award and Victor Aguado, President of the ANC. The cachet of the cover shows the Laurel Award.



Postcard (front and back) associated with the above cover showing the ANC Chamber (with the Vuelo masterpiece in the centre). In the back is the pure wool tapestry Man In Space donated by Romania in 1975 (see details hereafter).



Commemorative cover issued for the 36th Session of ICAO’s Assembly, held in Montréal, Canada, from 18 to 28 September 2007, reproducing the pure wool tapestry Man In Space donated by Romania.



The ANC in the current building at 999 Boulevard Robert-Bourassa, Montréal.

Commissioners in session. Picture taken in 2009.


The Air Navigation Chamber in 2013 in the current building

at 999 Boulevard Robert-Bourassa, Montréal – Photo Credit: Bernard Pelsser.


The bronze sculpture Vuelo.


The Air Navigation Chamber in 2022- Photo Credit: ICAO.