Concerns Arise as Mexico Works to Regain Category 1By Emilio Aristegui | Mon, 09/06/2021 - 12:45
Mexico continues to explore solutions to recover the lost Category 1 grade after the FAA downgraded the country’s airspace earlier this year. However, there are no certainties to whether this will be possible for 2022 as several obstacles continue to derail the country’s plan.
The downgrade of the Mexican airspace category was a tough blow for the industry but the Federal Government expected a swift bounce back: “The AFAC estimates that the timely review of the evidence reported in the audit by the FAA will allow a rapid return to Category 1. The cooperation and collaboration of both institutions will help our country to recover the level that corresponds to it,” reads a press release from earlier this year.
The Ministry of Communications and Transport (SCT) stablished the recovery of the Category 1 as a “priority” for the country. While the Mexican government is undertaking several measures to try to recover the lost grade, the implementation of new rules might not be enough said Rosa Maria Montero, lawyer and specialist in Aeronautical Law. “It is important to ensure that the update of these three standards (official aeronautical Mexican norms 60, 64 and 70) is sufficient to address the observations of the FAA regarding regulations on operational safety and the verification activity of the aeronautical authority.”
Meeting the FAA’s suggestions is also necessary for Mexico to keep the safest aviation standards, she added. According to FAA, the downgrade of Mexico’s airspace to Category 2 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.” For Mexico to comply with these standards is extremely important to strengthen the industry and the security and safety of passengers.
Both the FAA and the AFAC are working tirelessly to obtain quick results in the short run. However, the main challenge to recover the lost grade is the redesign of the Mexican airspace according to expert lawyer Rodrigo Soto Morales because it requires new air routes for the new Santa Lucia airport that have to work simultaneously with AICM’s. These new air routes represent an entire new system in the metropolitan area of Mexico City so the AFAC is studying different options to implement these routes in the most organized and safest way possible.