At its twelfth Air Navigation Conference (AN-Conf/12) held in Montréal, from 19 to 30 November 2012, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) introduced its Global Air Navigation Capacity and Efficiency Plan (GANP) for the period 2013 to 2028.The Plan is meant to be approved by the ICAO Assembly at its sessions every three years. This is the fourth such Plan adopted by ICAO over the years and is based on operational objectives agreed upon by States and the aviation industry. It provides for a rolling fifteen year strategic methodology and introduces Aviation System Block Upgrades (ASBUs), each of which has a five year time scale. The ASBUs are not overarching, nor are they an umbrella system but remain flexible modules that can be used by States in accordance with their individual operational needs. One of the salient characteristics of ASBUs is that they define technologies and procedures that are calculated to improve operational performance, particularly when the need arises for an operational problem to be solved. The ultimate aim is to achieve global harmonization and interoperability of air navigation.
ASBUs are based on flexibility and collaboration and as such are not mandatory requirements imposed on States. However, their importance and potential contribution to aviation safety were highlighted at the 38th Session of the ICAO Assembly held in the last quarter of 2013. In this context, this article discusses GANP and ASBUs and inquires into the legal regime applicable to the ASBUs and States' obligations pertaining thereto.Air and Space Law