Ms. Valdís Ásta Aðalsteinsdóttir
Why is NORDICAO important for its members and for ICAO?
A Nordic State has continuously held a seat in the ICAO Council since the first election in 1947. The candidature of Iceland is based on a mutually agreed rotation scheme between the Member States of the joint Nordic delegation to ICAO, NORDICAO (Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Norway and Sweden). The rotation scheme is a significant demonstration of the cooperative nature in which the work of ICAO is developed.
To a small nation such as Iceland, and the other NORDICAO States, ICAO offers a global perspective on aviation where all can contribute. Iceland´s geographical location translates into the vital importance of aviation, not only as a key economical factor for growth and prosperity, but also as the main mode of transport across borders. Iceland manages one of the largest air traffic control areas in the world – 5.4 million km2 – through the Danish and Icelandic Joint Finance Agreement, concluded under the framework of ICAO. Iceland is committed to ensuring developments and implementation of seamless boundaries while taking full account of other regional environments.
Iceland will bring NORDICAO’s perspective to ICAO and is motivated by opportunities to engage in cooperation and dialogue with ICAO, all its Member States, and in the Council, supporting ICAO in its leadership role addressing the challenges civil aviation is facing today and will face in the future.
Representative of Iceland on the Council of ICAO
What challenges do you see in the future?
Iceland is fully committed to enabling a safe return to high-volume domestic and international air travel for passengers and cargo post COVID-19 pandemic. We are devoted to rebuilding the trust of the travelling public for a safe, secure and environmentally sustainable civil aviation. Iceland is highly motivated to actively cooperate in addressing the challenges ahead together with the global civil aviation community, and to support ICAO to create a framework that gives enough space for innovation and new aviation technology, available today and tomorrow. Innovation will provide huge opportunities, including all the way to zero-emissions air transport in the future. Therefore, we have to work together in a continuous effort to establish rules that reflect the developments with the same – or even an improved – level of safety and security in an environmentally sustainable way so that flying keeps its status as the safest mode of travel. Let´s all fly again!
Valdís Ásta Aðalsteinsdóttir has over 30 years of experience across a wide spectrum of aviation and leadership- related businesses, with both public and private sector perspectives. She has held leading change management posts in organisations and is the first woman to be Iceland’s candidate for the ICAO Permanent Council Representative post. She is a Bachelor of Art graduate in sociology from the University of Iceland and has two diplomas in human resource management and public administration. Among her professional experience, she has served as public relations manager for the Icelandic Civil Aviation Authority, manager of special projects, and director of the customer service division, as well as being a member of the Icelandic Transport Authority’s Executive team.Since October 2019, Ms Aðalsteinsdóttir has been a part of the NORDICAO delegation and served as the Alternate Representative of Finland on the Council of ICAO. Being directly involved in the Council work has given a wealth of knowledge and experience on ICAO, and the Council in particular – an important addition to her vast experience in the field of international aviation cooperation and change management.
Iceland signed the Chicago Convention in December 1944 and participated in the foundation of ICAO. This is special in the light of full independence of the nation that was also realized in 1944. The importance of ICAO and international cooperation in the field of civil aviation was clear to the government of this new born republic. Successful history of ICAO and the milestones achieved for safe, efficient, convenient and sustainable aviation confirm this importance.
Operation of Unmanned Aircraft in Iceland
The Icelandic Transport Authority receives an increasing number of inquiries regarding the operation of unmanned aircraft. Isavia ANS, the Icelandic Air Navigation Provider (here after ANS), has taken an active role in supporting projects with unmanned aircraft within the Icelandic Flight Information Region (BIRD FIR).
Explosive Detection Dogs (EDD) have been used in airports for many years. Dogs have mainly been used to screen for illicit drugs in luggage and on persons. But the sensitive snouts are versatile and can also be trained to screen for other things in the airport, e.g. explosives in air cargo. In Denmark the first EDD-teams have been put into operation at Billund Airport (EKBI / BLL), which is the second largest airport in Denmark. Cargo Center Billund is the first Danish company to have EDD teams approved for screening air cargo for explosives.
The transition to sustainable aviation fuel is a new challenge for Estonia. Our aviation industry has been traditionally quite limited to offer support and maintenance services. Though, today successful maintenance company Magnetic MRO located with its HQ in Tallinn provides quality MRO services and capabilities to build technical components for the aviation industry globally. Alongside the aviation industry we have a long-term experience in the chemical industry and more specifically in the processing of oil shale.
Digitalization and cybersecurity are complex, multidisciplinary domains and crucially important enablers of civil aviation. Because of this, they are often challenging to approach and understand. In the broadest context, both disciplines simply enable people to air travel safely in a given schedule. However, both can, in the worst case scenario, seriously impact operational capabilities and capacities leading to weakening safety or security of flight. Even environmental issues are indirectly impacted.
Unmanned Aircraft Management and Oversight System
Latvia is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe next to the Baltic Sea. In 2004 Latvia joined the EU and since then has been actively developing its prominent new role in a rapidly globalizing world community. One of Latvia's most important projects at this moment is the Cohesion Fund project "Implementation of an unmanned aircraft management and monitoring system", planned to be finalized by the end of 2023.
Sharing the skies
The drone industry is developing at an accelerating rate. In Norway, smaller drones (sub 25 kg) are now being tested flying cargo in sparsely populated areas, and we are expecting to see them in more urban environments soon. In Iceland, operator Aha is already carrying out deliveries in Reykjavik, winching down hamburgers and pizzas from a multirotor drone. EASA regulations make it easier to operate across borders, and recently, operator Aviant performed such a border crossing from Sweden to Norway, with a drone flying cargo.
As a country with vast distances located in the northern part of the hemisphere, civil aviation is vital for Swedish society and our connectivity with the world. Sweden is therefore a long-standing and committed partner to ICAO and the developments of civil aviation in a globalized and evolving society. Sweden is currently experiencing exciting developments in terms of innovation, technical development and climate transition.