Nordic and Baltic cooperation in ICAO

Since 1944 the Scandinavian States – and later all Nordic and two of the Baltic States – have maintained a joint delegation to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). This joint Nordic Delegation, also known as NORDICAO, is comprised of representatives from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. This cooperation also established the first ever rotation group within ICAO.

The existence of this cooperative body, as well as the regular presence of a NORDICAO participating delegate on both the ICAO Council and Air Navigation Commission, has helped to foster highly harmonized civil aviation regulations and legislation within the 7 NORDICAO Member States, as well as a set of unique contributions to ICAO throughout the organization’s history.

The Nordic countries have a long history of cooperation within the field of civil aviation, and have a great interest in supporting and promoting ICAO’s role as the global organization for developing and harmonizing civil aviation standards and recommended practices as well as guidance material.

 The present NORDICAO Delegation is staffed by four persons:


  • Head of delegation and Representative of Sweden on the Council, Ms. Heléne Jansson Saxe
  • Alternate representative of Sweden on the Council, Mr. Samuli Vuokila
  • Air Navigation Commisioner, Mr. Tom Andersen
  • Administrative Officer, Ms. Åsa Westin


At the last general assembly in 2016, Sweden was elected ICAO Council Member for the triennium 2017 to 2019. The Swedish Representative on the ICAO Council for this triennium, and  head of the Nordic Delegation, Ms. Heléne Jansson Saxe has a Master of Business and Public Law and a long career working for the Swedish Civil Aviation Authority.  Ms.Saxe has extensive experience of international cooperation representing Sweden as Head of Delegation on many levels in air services agreement negotioations and in international civil aviation meetings. 

The Delegation members are in close contact with their national civil aviation authorities and report directly to the Director Generals of Civil Aviation (DGCA’s) for each of the States in the rotation group. The DGCA’s meet twice a year to coordinate the tasks for the Delegation.



  The cooperation between the Nordic States goes all the way back to the Chicago Conference in 1944 where Norway, as a newly-elected Member of the Interim Council, was considered a Representative for the Nordic geographical area. The Interim Council, first elected on December 6, 1944, consisted of 20 Delegates. India, with its geographical position and large population, was not elected.

  On December 7, the very last day of the Conference, the Norwegian Ambassador, Mr. Wilhelm Munthe de Morgenstierne, announced that Norway which was elected as one of the 20 members of the Interim Council, would offer its seat to India. The Cuban Delegate, Mr. Felipe Pazos, then asked Norway to withdraw its offer, and in turn offered Cuba’s seat to India, since the Caribbean Region was well represented in the Interim Council.

  In this way India became a Member of the Interim Council and the President of the Conference and Chairman of the American Delegation, Mr. Adolf Berle, remarked that these two examples of nobility promised a successful future for the newborn organization.

  Three years later, in May 1947, the first Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization took place in Windsor Hall, Montreal. Neither Norway nor Denmark ran for a seat in the Council, in order to facilitate the election of Sweden. The Swedish delegate expressed his gratitude for his country‘s election to the Council, commenting at the time that the actions of Norway and Denmark demonstrated

  “Further evidence of that spirit of cooperation which the Scandinavian countries have already shown on international air routes, where they are, in fact, operating a joint airline service.” The reference he made was to Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS), which was founded on August 1,1946, a company that still operates domestic and international routes to and from the Scandinavian countries.

  The Scandinavian Delegation originally comprised Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Finland joined on March 1, 1976, and, to reflect this inclusion of a Nordic country, the term Scandinavian Delegation was changed to Nordic Delegation. On July 1, 1980, Iceland and on January 1, 2014, Estonia and Latvia also joined the Nordic Delegation which now encompassed all five Nordic States and two from the Baltics.

  Today, the Nordic Delegation to ICAO represents a combined population of approximately 25 million, spread over a land area of 3.5 million km². The airspace controlled by the five Nordic States totals approximately 8,4 million km², comprising a vast area in Northern Europe and over the North Atlantic equivalent to 82 percent of the European landmass or the entire landmass of Brazil.

  One achievement that has arisen from the close cooperation between the five Nordic States through the years is the remarkably harmonized national legislation within the five States regarding civil aviation regulation. This has been made possible in part because a Nordic Representative has been steadily maintained on the ICAO Council and in the Air Navigation Commission. The Nordic States have succeeded in participating actively in ICAO’s programmes, harmonizing to the fullest extent possible the Nordic position in all ICAO matters and ratifying international Conventions made under the auspices of ICAO.

The Nordic States consider ICAO the global focal point for the continuous improvement of aviation safety.

  Consequently, aviation experts on different subjects have been seconded to the Organization when needed, and at no cost to ICAO. On several occasions, employees have been permanently placed in Montreal to assist ICAO Study Groups.

  Another example of the close cooperation between the Nordic States has been the Nordic Educational Board, which primarily was tasked to harmonize the education and training of safety inspectors through courses and exchanges of experience as well as to improve the inter-Nordic relationship and the harmonization of Flight Safety Inspections.

  The establishment of functional airspace blocks in the Nordics and Baltics is also a good example of the Nordic cooperative spirit. The legislation concerning the‘Single European Sky’ requires the participating States to organize this work in the most efficient way possible, by ensuring improved cooperation and coordination between government agencies.

  One of the measures is the establishment of ‘functional airspace blocks’ (FAB) that cover the airspace over several States. One of the goals of the Single European Sky is to replace the current fragmented airspace structure over Europe with nine functional airspace blocks by the end of 2012.

  At present, four of the five Nordic States together with Estonia and Latvia are a part of a FAB, which is essential to achieve future efficiency gains, improvement of safety and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions per flight.

  One of the key elements in the joint Nordic aviation safety work, in the near future, will be to establish State Safety Programs to ensure the efficient implementation of oversight activities by service providers. These activities will be based on the assessment of safety performance as it relates to the service providers’ Safety Management Systems and related objectives.

  But such programmes will only be efficient when based on explicit policies, procedures, management controls, documentation and corrective action processes to keep State safety management efforts on track.

  Thus, the Nordic States fully support the adaption of such programmes in order to be effectively prepared for the challenges ahead and to further advance their ongoing efforts to promote safe and efficient aviation throughout the globe.