The US Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today announced that the Government of Mexico does not meet International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) safety standards. Based on a reassessment of Mexico’s civil aviation authority, the FAA has downgraded Mexico’s rating from Category 1 to Category 2 .
The FAA downgraded Mexico, the most common destination for US air travellers last month, from a level called Category 1, which signifies compliance with international standards, to Category 2, the lowest level.
What the downgrade of rating means?
While the new rating allows Mexican air carriers to continue existing service to the United States, it prohibits any new service and routes. US airlines will no longer be able to market and sell tickets with their names and designator codes on Mexican-operated flights. The FAA will increase its scrutiny of Mexican airline flights to the United States.
During its reassessment of the Agencia Federal de Aviacion Civil (AFAC), from October 2020 to February 2021, the FAA identified several areas of non-compliance with minimum ICAO safety standards. 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.
To meet ICAO safety standards, not FAA regulations
Under the IASA program, the FAA assesses the civil aviation authorities of all countries with air carriers that have applied to fly to the United States, currently conduct operations to the United States or participate in code-sharing arrangements with US partner airlines. The assessments determine whether international civil aviation authorities meet minimum ICAO safety standards, not FAA regulations.
The US Federal Aviation Administration, in announcing the action, said it is "fully committed to helping the Mexican aviation authority improve its safety oversight system to a level that meets international standards". The agency also said it is "ready to provide expertise and resources" to resolve issues raised in the safety assessment process.
To obtain and maintain a Category 1 rating a country must adhere to the safety standards of ICAO, the United Nations’ technical agency for aviation. ICAO establishes international standards and recommended practices for aircraft operations and maintenance.
A similar FAA downgrade of Mexico in 2010 over suspected shortcomings within its civil aviation authority lasted about four months. Only a few countries currently are rated Category 2 by the FAA, including Bangladesh, Pakistan, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia.