Rodrigo Vásquez
Director General
Federal Agency of Civil Aviation
/
Expert Contributor

Civil Aviation Master Plan Key to Industry Transformation

By Rodrigo Vasquéz | Thu, 09/24/2020 - 09:16

Civil aviation in Mexico has recently begun a transformation process involving challenges, strategy design and cutting-edge development, with the goal of placing the country's aviation industry at the level of the world's best aviation industries. The flight toward that transformation has been begun at the Federal Civil Aviation Agency (AFAC) with the creation and execution of the Civil Aviation Master Plan.

The transition from the then General Directorate of Civil Aeronautics (DGAC) to the current AFAC was not only the result of an administrative change. On the contrary, it is the result of many years of incessant work and of recognizing that the capacity for surveillance and supervision had been surpassed by the growth and dynamism of the aeronautical industry. The DGAC was not able to respond to the sector’s needs, nor to face an aeronautical industry that demanded the definition of an aeronautical policy with a long-term vision, to provide a true sense of national aviation, to mitigate the regulatory and infrastructure backlog and to have an autonomous body that works as a regulator and supervisor of aeronautical activities, among others. 

In Mexico, the aeronautical industry is a major economic driver, according to air transport indicators. As of 2019, as far as airport infrastructure is concerned, the National Airport System is comprised of 77 airports, of which 13 are national and 64 international, 1,474 airfields, 536 heliports and 43 airports certified under the criteria of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Regarding air transportation in that same year, 9,531 aircraft were registered, 54,103 seats were offered by national airlines, 876,000 flights were made, 102 million passengers and 859,000 tons of cargo were transported.

It is also worth mentioning that the aeronautical industry generates around 1,025,000 direct and indirect jobs, there are 2,500 airways, 3.5 million km2 of air space, 1,000 air traffic controllers, 52 bilateral agreements, 290 maintenance workshops, 182 training centers and 330 manufacturing companies.

These indicators allow us to observe the general panorama of the raw diamond that the country has in Mexican civil aviation. The challenge was how to consolidate the leadership of AFAC, to create technological development in the industry, to establish optimal conditions to transform the aeronautical industry in Mexico and to make it competitive. The answer came from an unprecedented idea: to create the Civil Aviation Master Plan, a comprehensive, inclusive and above all, a structured vision that contemplates the industry's needs and that is sensitive to the aviation authority's shortcomings. 

The Civil Aviation Master Plan is the watershed for achieving synergy between the aeronautical authority and the aviation industry in the country, moving toward the same goal and joining government and sectoral efforts to achieve the expected results.

Today, the Master Plan for Civil Aviation is a tangible fact that has been structured as a strategic project to boost the economy and social development. The idea of emphasizing three fundamental axes was outlined with the aim of transforming the existing gaps and proposing the implementation of applicable improvement actions, guaranteeing sustained aviation growth and promoting projects that generate greater social and economic development. Another goal was ensuring greater air connectivity, operational safety and institutional strengthening, as well as establishing eight technical committees focused on regulatory harmonization, airspace, air operations, airport infrastructure, aeronautical manufacturing, technological development, aeronautical training and accident prevention and investigation.

Together the three fundamental pillars and the eight technical committees seek the effective implementation of actions focused on promoting high levels of operational safety, reliability, efficiency and increasing the competitiveness of air transport in its infrastructure and services, as well as establishing integral principles, generators and detonators of growth. In these moments of change, adaptation and reorganization, the Civil Aviation Master Plan has born fruits. The technical committees have held their first meetings and have determined their work plans and strategic projects, which, in summary, add up to the desired transformation of the aeronautical sector. 

Mexico is a country with great potential in terms of aviation and to this end there are several factors, such as the geographical location, culture, history, its people and the poles of tourist development, that incentivize the country to position itself as an attractive region in the world. Air transportation is necessary to facilitate this. The need to evolve from the DGAC to the AFAC was based on the creation of a mechanism such as the Master Plan for Civil Aviation that would allow strategic projects to be detonated in order to develop the sector.
 

Photo by:   Rodrigo Vásquez