Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Due to pandemic and austerity, pilots fly with expired licenses, no medical checks

Many commercial pilots are flying with expired licenses and out-of-date medical examination results, according to a report by the newspaper Reforma.

Pilots have been unable to renew their licenses and attend medical examinations for more than a year, the report said.

“The argument: the pandemic. The reality: the limitations imposed by the federal administration.”

“What’s happening is incredible,” an unnamed commercial pilot told the newspaper, saying that many pilots are unable to book medical checks at a specialized clinic in Mexico City because only five appointments are given per day. “This has been happening since April 2020. There is an extension [to get the checks] … until June 30, but we’re flying without having been checked by a doctor — this is absurd.”

Pilots and officials at the Mexico City airport said 25 centers across the country where pilots could complete medical checks and have their licenses renewed were shut down in 2019 by the current government as part of its austerity drive.

As a result, pilots can only get their health checks and renew their licenses in Mexico City, as was the case a decade ago.

One airport official claimed that the government has taken the pilot accreditation process back 30 years. The regression, coupled with the pandemic, has created a “tremendous bottleneck” of pilots trying to keep their credentials up to date, he said.

The official said pilots who haven’t completed medical examinations for more than a year could have undiagnosed medical conditions affecting their ability to fly.

“They could have a vision problem, a headache that could … be something serious and no one knows, but the pilot flies,” he said.

The revelations come just after the United States government downgraded Mexico’s aviation safety rating.

The Federal Aviation Administration said it downgraded Mexico from Category 1 to Category 2 after finding that it doesn’t meet standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization, a specialized agency of the United Nations.

Source: Reforma (sp) 

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