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FAA Restores Mexico’s Category 1 Safety Rating

In a significant development, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has reinstated Mexico’s aviation safety rating to Category 1. This pivotal move comes after over two years of rigorous collaboration between the civil aviation authorities of Mexico and the US.

the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has reinstated Mexico's aviation safety rating to Category 1. This pivotal move comes after over two years of rigorous collaboration between the civil aviation authorities of Mexico and the U.S.
Mexico City, Mexico – April 15, 2022: AeroMexico Boeing 737 MAX 8 airplane at Mexico City airport (MEX) in Mexico. Credit: Boarding1Now

With this uplifting to Category 1 status, Mexico now enjoys the flexibility to introduce new service lines and aviation routes connecting to the U.S. Concurrently, US airline companies can seamlessly market and promote ticket sales bearing their brand names and designated codes on flights operated by Mexico.

FAA and AFAC: A Collaboration for Aviation Safety

The FAA has been instrumental in this achievement, offering expertise and resources through technical assistance agreements to Mexico’s Agencia Federal de Aviacion Civil (AFAC). This collaborative endeavor aimed to address and rectify the aviation safety concerns that previously led to the downgrade. Over the past 24 months, the FAA deployed a team of aviation safety specialists multiple times to aid AFAC in its efforts.

In May 2021, the FAA reclassified Mexico’s standing in the International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) to Category 2. This decision was based on the evaluation that Mexico did not align with the safety norms the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) set.

IASA’s Role in Global Aviation Safety

The IASA program, steered by the FAA, undertakes the critical task of evaluating the civil aviation administrations of nations whose air carriers are interested in US operations or currently serve US routes. Furthermore, countries participating in code-sharing agreements with US airline enterprises are scrutinized by IASA. The primary objective of these evaluations is to determine whether the civil aviation bodies adhere to the fundamental safety standards prescribed by ICAO. It’s crucial to note that these assessments revolve around ICAO’s benchmarks and not the regulations of the FAA.

To be conferred with and maintain a Category 1 rating, nations must strictly comply with ICAO’s safety guidelines. ICAO, which functions under the aegis of the United Nations, is mandated to outline global standards and suggested best practices governing aircraft operations and upkeep.

For a more comprehensive insight into the IASA program, aviation enthusiasts and stakeholders can visit the official FAA website.

The reinstatement of Mexico to Category 1 stands as a testament to the unwavering efforts of both countries in upholding and elevating aviation safety standards, ensuring safer skies for all.

Mexico City International Airport Flight Restrictions

Interestingly, this decision came not long after the Mexican government imposed flight restrictions on Mexico City International Airport (AICM). In objecting to these restrictions, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) had said the government should focus on regaining a Category 1 rating instead of stemming necessary air traffic.

However, Mexico’s president played down the importance of the FAA’s evaluation. As reported, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador described the Category 2 rating as undue pressure imposed on Mexico by the US. “[The FAA] still haven’t given us Category 1 because they always blackmail. They say, ‘Well, you have to do this because if you don’t, we won’t give you Category 1.’ They haven’t checked the calendar. They are lost in a time when there was a puppet government in Mexico that didn’t act independently.”

We’ll watch and wait to see how the FAA’s restoration of Mexico’s Category 1 rating impacts the decision to decrease air traffic at AICM.

IATA Welcomes FAA’s Decision on Mexico’s Rating

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) welcomed the FAA’s decision to reinstate Mexico’s category 1 aviation safety rating. The airline association congratulated the stakeholders who worked together to achieve the restoration, including the Secretariat of Infrastructure, Communications and Transport (SICT), the Federal Civil Aviation Agency (AFAC), and the Congress of the Union.

IATA also emphasized that stakeholders must comply with the observations made during the FAA audits to maintain Category 1 to ensure operational safety and sustainable development of aviation in Mexico. The airline association also confirmed its commitment to cooperate with the authorities to facilitate the industry’s medium- and long-term growth.

“The connectivity between Mexico and the United States is one of the most important in the world and contributes significantly to the social and economic development of the country. With the return of category 1, Mexican airlines will leave behind the prior restrictions, which have considerably affected the post-pandemic recovery and ability to grow their service in the Mexico – U.S. market,” said Peter Cerdá, IATA’s Regional Vice President for the Americas.

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