Mexico: Reform of Mexican aviation legislation as a measure to regain Category 1 status

In brief

The Civil Aviation Law and its Regulations (collectively, "Aeronautical Legislation") were amended in response to Mexico's downgrade to Category 2 by the Federal Aviation Agency of the United States of America (FAA) as a result of its failure to comply with the safety standards established by the Convention on International Civil Aviation of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Through the amendments to the Aeronautical Legislation, the Mexican Federal Civil Aviation Agency (AFAC) intends to facilitate the incorporation of and compliance with the standards issued by the ICAO, with which Mexico could recover its Category 1 status.


In Detail

On 22 January 2022, reforms to the Aeronautical Legislation became effective, enabling the AFAC  to strengthen the regulatory framework for aviation safety in Mexico. The reforms include provisions that (i) allow the AFAC to grant a special airworthiness certificate to aircraft that do not comply with the requirements established in Mexican regulations to allow aircraft to conduct a safe flight, (ii) make concessionaires, permit holders and aircraft operators jointly and severally liable with the commander or pilot in command of an aircraft, (iii) designate the Ministry of Infrastructure, Communications and Transportation (SICT) as the agency in charge of the investigating civil aircraft accidents and incidents, (v) regulate the provision and development of air transportation services offered by Mexican airlines, (vi) regulate the exploitation and use of Mexican airspace, (vii) allow the granting of exceptions, exemptions and extensions to the obligations and requirements established in the Aeronautical Legislation, among others.

As established in the reforms to the Aeronautical Legislation, the SICT must have a state safety program in place aimed at safety management for Mexico, to achieve an optimal level of safety performance in civil aviation. Such state program will go alongside the issuance of the State Program Manual issued by the SICT that will contain the policies, objectives, processes, procedures and responsibilities of the State to develop safety activities. In addition, such amendments intend to modify the Aeronautical Legislation to incorporate ICAO provisions on safety matters, with the purpose of recovering Category 1 in aviation safety.

Conclusion

The amendments made to the Aeronautical Legislation were issued in response to Mexico's downgrading to Category 2 by the FAA after determining that Mexican aviation does not comply with the safety parameters imposed by the ICAO. With the implementation of the measures set forth in such reforms, the AFAC seeks to regulate specific aspects of aeronautical and airport safety, to establish international safety standards in Mexican aviation to recover the Category 1 status that Mexican aviation used to have.

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