Wednesday, December 6, 2023

US aviation agency visit to Mexico postponed after domestic system failure

A meeting originally scheduled for Thursday to assess the corrective action plan that could help Mexico regain its Category 1 of aviation safety rating was canceled last-minute by the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Billy Noen, acting head of the FAA who was supposed to arrive in Mexico City on Thursday morning, canceled the trip due to an overnight system collapse on Tuesday that left pilots, airlines and airports in the United States without crucial safety information.

“The FAA requested to reschedule the meeting and make the visit to Mexico as soon as possible,” the Mexican aviation agency AFAC said in a statement.

The meeting had been scheduled as part of a plan to recover the coveted Category 1 air safety rating given by the FAA, which was downgraded for Category 2 (the lowest level) in May 2021. At that time, the FAA said that they demoted Mexico because its civil aviation authority didn’t meet the safety standards set by the United Nations International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

Holding a Category 2 rating has prevented Mexican airlines from opening new routes to the U.S., increasing flight frequencies and adding new aircrafts that can enter the country. It also limits Mexican airlines to carry out marketing agreements with U.S. carriers.

According to Minister of Infrastructure, Communications and Transport Jorge Nuño Lara, who made an appearance before Congress in December 2022, a final audit is expected for February after which a decision on whether Mexico can recover Category 1 would be reached. The rating would be then granted by April.

However, it is yet to be seen if the cancellation of Thursday’s meeting would have any repercussions on the action plan or approval timeline.

With reports from Expansión and The New York Times

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