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Mexico signs agreement with FAA to help improve aviation safety rating

Aviation Updates Philippines – Mexico's Agencia Federal de Aviacion Civil (AFAC) has signed an agreement with the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to help the country recover its Category 1 aviation safety rating, Mexico's Secretaria de Comunicaciones y Transportes, or the SCT, announced on Monday, July 26.

Photo by Eric Salard
This agreement comes two months after the FAA downgraded Mexico's aviation safety rating from Category 1 to Category 2 following an audit between October of 2020 and February of 2021 which "identified several areas of non-compliance with minimum ICAO safety standards."

The FAA did not publicly disclose the reasons for the downgrade but explained in a statement that "a Category 2 rating means that the country's laws or regulations lack the necessary requirements to oversee the country's air carriers in accordance with minimum international safety standards, or the civil aviation authority is lacking in one or more areas such as technical expertise, trained personnel, record-keeping, inspection procedures, or resolution of safety concerns."

The US regulatory body also said in May that it is "fully committed" to helping Mexico improve its safety oversight system and offered to provide expertise and resources to help the AFAC resolve the issues identified during its assessment.

As part of the agreement signed with the AFAC, the FAA will send a team of experts to Mexico in August to conduct a technical review of the country's efforts to improve its rating. The team will then provide a report of their findings and their recommendations for improvement.

The SCT, meanwhile, emphasized that recovering Mexico's Category 1 rating in the shortest time possible is a "priority" and that improvements are ongoing to assure the aviation industry, the population, and local and foreign tourists that "Mexico is safe in the areas of air transport and airport services." 

It also said that there would be close communication with representatives of the aviation industry to keep them updated on the work being carried out to avoid disruptions in the coming season of high demand for air travel.

Under the Category 2 designation, Mexican carriers are prohibited from mounting additional flights on their existing US routes as well as launching services to new destinations in the US. Additionally, they must only use previously authorized aircraft types on all their flights to and from the US. American carriers, meanwhile, cannot market and sell tickets with their names and designator codes on flights operated by Mexican carriers, a practice known as codesharing. However, they may still launch additional flights to Mexico using their own aircraft. 

This is the second time in the last 11 years that Mexico's aviation safety rating was downgraded by the FAA. In 2010, Mexico was given a Category 2 rating for four months, reportedly due to a lack of flight inspectors.

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