The principal focus of ECAC's activities are ECAC States themselves, yet Directors General recognise the importance of external relations, and the need for the organisation to build on its core strengths, particularly its ability to engage with regional bodies and establish partnerships.
Originally, safety was one of the cornerstones of ECAC activities. The Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA) were established by ECAC in 1990 in order to set uniform high safety standards within Europe and to unify the then multiple safety aviation certification procedures. After the establishment of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) that took over JAA functions, ECAC safety activities were reduced in order to prevent overlaps or duplications.
Aviation security is a core activity of the European Civil Aviation Conference. ECAC's work in this area focuses on ensuring security measures are in place to protect civil aviation against acts of unlawful interference.
Aviation security measures are described in ECAC Doc 30, Part II, a policy statement adopted by all 44 ECAC Member States.
Improving the passenger's experience and facilitating legitimate trade are key objectives of ECAC's activities in the field of facilitation, which is itself one of the strategic priorities of ECAC and is closely linked to aviation security.
ECAC has established environment as one of its key priorities, conscious that the environmental impacts of the aviation sector must be mitigated if aviation is to continue to be successful as an important facilitator of sustainable development.
ECAC activities in the economic field aim at promoting an economically efficient, sustainable and competitive European air transport sector, and have four main features.
The first is to support the understanding on economic issues of common interest to the aviation community within ECAC, through discussions held in the Economic Working Group and in the Network of Chief Economists, both established in 2016.
The Istanbul Declaration issued at the end of the conference held in June 2010 acknowledged ECAC's important role in ensuring that training is given adequate priority in the continued drive for safe, secure and green air transport in Europe. It agreed that a greater emphasis on competency-based training could best achieve this objective. It led to the adoption of the ECAC Training Policy at DGCA/135 (December 2010).
ECAC's legal activities support the work in other fields of civil aviation such as safety, environment and security.
Established in 1996, the Legal Task Force examines legal issues and develops proposals on various legal issues related to the role and various activities of ECAC.
Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) are creating a new industry with large economic potential. Over the past years, the civil UAS sector has experienced significant and exponential growth, with a strong impact on traditional aviation systems and topics. It is within this context that ECAC Member States are being challenged with the safe, secure and efficient integration of UAS into environments shared by a highly regulated and well-established, manned aircraft industry.