FAA will Assist Mexico to reclaim Category-I Safety Rating

Curaçao and St. Maarten are categorized in FAA Category II since the year 2021. Photo: ABC Online Media/Harald Linkels

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will provide technical assistance to Mexico’s civil aviation regulator (Agencia Federal de Aviacion Civil – AFAC) to help the country reclaim its Category 1 safety rating, Mexico’s Ministry of Communications and Transportation announced.

This followed the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between both regulating authorities on July 23, under which terms the FAA will send a group of experts to Mexico in August. The FAA will conduct a technical review to determine if AFAC’s safety supervision complies with the minimum standards required in “Annexes One, Six, and Eight of the Convention on International Civil Aviation (Chicago Convention), of which Mexico has been a part since 1994”, the ministry said in a statement.

The FAA specialists will draft a report of their findings and recommendations for improvement. Annex One of the Chicago Convention deals with personnel licensing; Annex Six with the operation of aircraft; and Annex Eight with the airworthiness of aircraft.

The FAA had downgraded Mexico’s safety rating from Category 1 to Category 2 in May, following an audit of AFAC between October 2020 and April 2021 that revealed several infractions with minimum safety standards as prescribed by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The regulator at the time did not publicly name the shortcomings.

“The recovery of Category 1 in the shortest possible time is a priority to guarantee safety standards in the interest of tourism and all areas of air transport and airport services”, said the Ministry after signing the agreement.

Curaçao and St. Maarten

In the meantime, Curaçao and St. Maarten, both downgraded by FAA to Category II in the year 2012, have not been able to reclaim the Category I classification since.

While technical assistance was promised by The Hague, it seems that so far little progress has been made on the matter. The degrading of Curaçao to Category 1 is seen as one of the factors leading to the demise of Curaçao-based Insel Air. The Category II status can also hamper St. Maarten based Winair in the start up of new routes to islands as Puerto Rico or the US Virgin Islands.

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