International Civil Aviation Organization ICAO

GROUP: Specialized Agencies

  • Topic A: Expanding Access to Civil Aviation
  • Topic B: Global Pilot Shortage

TOPIC A Expanding Access to Civil Aviation

TOPIC B Global Pilot Shortage



  • Hugh Barringer (he/him)
  • Lucas Pombo (he/him)
Email Committee Chair

The ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) is the United Nations’ governing body for civil aviation. Working with all UN member states, the ICAO has a mission of sustainably growing civil aviation. With such an international industry, technical and diplomatic coordination is key and the ICAO helps countries realize the full potential of their aviation industries. This year, the committee is focusing on challenges that aviation faces as it continues to become more prevalent around the world.

Topic A: Expanding Access to Civil Aviation
Airplanes are an enormous part of the global economy. This is true both in terms of connecting people but also other industries like crop fertilization and weather forecasting. However, the infrastructure to access this crucial service varies massively by country. The US and Brazil have 42.7 and 42.4 airports per million residents, respectively, putting them far ahead of countries like China (0.4 airports/million), India (0.2), and Bangladesh (0.1). Other headways for the aviation industry exist too. Flights in China are chronically delayed, commercial narrowbody aircraft are on an 8-year backorder, and regional flights around the world have shut off service, cutting off isolated communities from the outside world. In fact, the smallest jet-powered aircraft is the largest it has ever been, at 78 seats. The operating economics for these routes have become so bad that some US airlines have begun to replace regional flights with bus services. There are many possible solutions to these issues, and delegates must think about how different challenges manifest in different countries. However, through a combination of innovative solutions, collaboration, and standardization, aviation will have a bright future with more equitable access across the world.

Topic B: Global Pilot Shortage
The world is running out of airline pilots. Beset by a combination of an aging workforce, a mandatory retirement age of 65, and a lengthening pipeline for talent, the world is expected to face a shortage of 79,000 pilots by 2032. Traditionally, major airlines have relied on regional carriers and the military to provide talent, but entering the profession for a regional carrier is becoming significantly less attractive. Simultaneously, drone warfare has reduced the amount of pilots trained by the air force, traditionally a mainstay of commercial pilot recruitment. Furthermore, many pilots retired early during COVID-19, which has made matters worse as air travel has rebounded strongly in the years since. In other parts of the world, especially Asia, there is a healthy pipeline of pilots, but demand is forecasted to grow as rising incomes put air travel in reach for more and more people. Furthermore, this problem is one of collective action–airlines trying to increase supply individually will only see the full dividends if pilots work for them for a long time, a situation which is far from desirable. The solution to the shortage will be multifaceted and will likely involve a mix of increased training, lowering barriers to entry, and international harmonization.