Speaking Notes for The Honourable Marc Garneau Minister of Transport Remarks for PS 752 Intervention in the ICAO Council ICAO Headquarters, Montreal, Canada


March 11, 2020

Thank you Mr. President,

Good Morning esteemed Council members, what an honour it is for me to be in this special place – ICAO’s Council Chamber - as we aim, together, to build a better international civil aviation system for the travelling public we all serve.

Thank you Mme. Secretary General for this Oral Report, as well as to you and your team for your engagement on the investigation of this tragic event, a very important issue for Canada.

On January 8, 2020, Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 crashed shortly after taking off from Tehran, killing all 176 people on board, including 55 Canadians.

The Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran subsequently stated that its military had accidentally shot down this aircraft.

Since this tragic event, Canada has led the efforts to create a framework of cooperation with other States whose passengers also perished, to provide closure, accountability, transparency and justice for the families of the victims.

We are also looking towards a better future, where the international community can learn from this tragedy, so as to minimize the risk of accidents of this nature ever happening again.

Learning from past tragedies to build a better future - together - is the very core of Canada’s Safer Skies initiative, which will be presented in the Council later this morning.

But to learn from past events, we need hard data, solid analysis, and evidence-based, risk-informed recommendations.

We – the international community – benefited from the comprehensive Annex 13-compliant report prepared by the Dutch Safety Board in the wake of the MH17 tragedy in 2014.

This report informed much of the work done by ICAO in regards to airspace management, civil military cooperation, and conflict zones in the five years since.

Many of the amendments to Annexes that you unanimously adopted over the last week are the direct result of the hard work done by the Secretariat, Panel Members, the Air Navigation Commission, and States through the State Letter Consultation Process.

This work required strong consensus in this Chamber, and will benefit the193 member States as they aim for effective implementation of these new Standards and Recommended Practices.

However, we cannot learn from the tragic shoot-down of PS752, unless all the facts are known, and analysed.

Two months after the fact, we should all be increasingly concerned with Iran’s failure to arrange for the readout of the flight recorders despite repeated requests.

Iran’s failure in this regard is inconsistent with the standards and recommended practices set out in Annex 13 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation, which requires that this take place without delay.

Iran must act now to arrange the readout of the flight recorders as a demonstration of continued willingness to provide a full and transparent account of this event that is consistent with their international obligations. Canadians and the international community simply cannot wait any longer.

The travelling public’s trust in the international civil aviation system is at the very core of the mandate at ICAO.

ICAO has a long history of successfully learning the hard lessons of previous tragedies in order to build a civil aviation system that’s widely recognized as the safest form of transportation.

A just culture built on transparent investigations that get to the root causes of any tragedy is the very foundation of how we – together - have built a civil aviation system that we can all be proud of.

As we aim for safer skies, it’s important to remember that all 193 ICAO Contracting States, including Iran, have a duty of care to the travelling public, and that any lessons learnt from this tragedy can only come from a full and transparent investigation.

Having the Cockpit Voice Recorder and Flight Data Recorder data available to the investigators is key to building something constructive.  

Should there be further delays in the reading of these recorders, Canada will look to other Council mechanisms to press for compliance with Annex 13, such as a formal resolution.

Canada expects, Mme Secretary General, that in your next update to this Council and at the very latest in the next session that the black boxes have been read, and analysed.

It is in all of our interests that the Iranian investigators, along with their partners from the International Community - make significant progress towards a near future where the hard lessons learnt from this tragedy can inform all of us, as we aim for safer skies.

Thank you Mr. President.

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