Official: FAA Downgrades Mexico Aviation Safety Rating

Official: FAA Downgrades Mexico Aviation Safety Rating

32

This was first rumored a few days ago, but is now official.

FAA downgrades Mexico safety rating to Category 2

The United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has downgraded Mexico’s aviation safety rating from a Category 1 to a Category 2.

FAA inspectors conducted a review of Agencia Federal de Aviacion Civil (AFAC) between October 2020 and February 2021, and identified several areas of non-compliance with minimum safety standards.

A Category 2 rating means that the country’s laws and regulations lack the necessary requirements to oversee the country’s air carriers in accordance with minimal international safety standards, or that 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.

This is the first time since 2010 that Mexico’s safety rating has been downgraded from a Category 1. The last time Mexico was downgraded, it lasted for about four months.

Thailand is another country with a Category 2 safety rating

How FAA safety ratings work

With the International Convention of Civil Aviation, every country is responsible for the oversight of its own air carriers. Of course once in a while there also need to be audits to ensure that regulators are doing their jobs correctly.

The FAA conducts the International Aviation Safety Assessment Program (IASA). The assessment is intended to determine if the relevant civil aviation authorities provide oversight to carriers that are in line with international standards.

Note that just because a country’s safety rating is demoted doesn’t at all suggest the airlines from that country are unsafe. It just suggests there’s a lack of oversight from regulatory authorities.

If you ask me, there is a bit of irony to the FAA being responsible for determining whether other countries have the proper oversight, given the 737 MAX fiasco that lasted for a couple of years, where the FAA was in many ways using the honor system with Boeing.

This doesn’t in any way mean that Mexican airlines are unsafe

What are the implications of this?

Mexico being downgraded by the FAA would is going to be a major headache for Mexican airlines, as well as for the Delta and Aeromexico joint venture.

If a civil aviation authority meets standards, the FAA gives that authority a Category 1 rating. This means air carriers from that country:

  • Can initiate or continue service to the United States in a normal manner
  • Can take part in reciprocal codeshare agreements with carriers from the USA

If a civil aviation authority doesn’t meet standards, the FAA gives that authority a Category 2 rating. This means air carriers from that country:

  • Cannot initiate new service to the United States
  • Are restricted to current levels of any existing service to the USA while corrective actions are underway
  • Can’t codeshare with air carriers from the USA
  • If the airlines fly to the USA, they’ll be subjected to additional inspections

In other words, Mexican airlines are now restricted to current levels of service to the United States, and on top of that Aeromexico and Delta can no longer codeshare on flights. This is major, especially when you consider that Mexico is currently the largest outbound international market from the United States.

Among airlines from the USA, this impacts Delta the most

Bottom line

The FAA has downgraded Mexico’s aviation safety rating to a Category 2, following a review of the country’s aviation oversight program.

This means that Mexican airlines can’t add any more service to the United States, and also impacts the ability of carriers in the United States to codeshare with Mexican airlines. Something like this last happened over a decade ago, and lasted for about four months.

I’m curious to see how long it takes for Mexico to resolve this…

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  1. Tim Dunn

    Chase,
    the downgrade does not impact Mexican carriers' ability to codeshare on US carrier operated flights.

    Aaron,
    Delta said during an investor conference today that mileage accrual and all other marketing-related aspects of the AM-DL relationship will be unchanged.

  2. magice

    OMG the outpouring of animosity against FAA is just astounding. And, frankly, pathetic.

    Look, if you think FAA is incompetent, do something about it. If you are American citizen or resident, call up your representatives and have them grill FAA for why they failed to monitor Boeing properly. Oh, wait, that is going on. And FAA has been working hard to see that Boeing don't do the kind of ****ty work they did with 737MAX...

    OMG the outpouring of animosity against FAA is just astounding. And, frankly, pathetic.

    Look, if you think FAA is incompetent, do something about it. If you are American citizen or resident, call up your representatives and have them grill FAA for why they failed to monitor Boeing properly. Oh, wait, that is going on. And FAA has been working hard to see that Boeing don't do the kind of ****ty work they did with 737MAX again. If you are not, feel free to call your national regulatory body to come hard on Boeing or Delta or American or whoever.

    Otherwise, please. I don't personally know what you do for a living, but I am pretty sure these inspectors are more knowledgeable and hardworking than you are at their jobs. Flying in the US is safer than driving. Think about *that*. And whom do we have to thank for all these? Private companies? Please. Just look at Boeing. FAA trusted them a bit (national pride, you understand) and they screwed up royally. And they are the engineers with reputation to protect. Think about those airlines whose main claim to money is how cheap their tickets are. You really think they give a rat*** about your personal safety?

    FAA is not perfect, of course. But instead of pretending that you know what you are talking about, do something about it. Otherwise, just shut up. You know less about physics of flying than they do. You have saved way fewer lives than they have. You don't have a right to speak of these public servants with such poison in your tone. Be critical, sure, but respectful.

  3. Abey

    I think there’s a huge difference to airliner type certification (max) to what I assume are everyday safety precautions here. And while I agree the FAA dropped the ball by trusting Boeing too much, dismissing the entire FAA is wrong lucky. The US has one of the worlds best records on safety aviation

  4. Evan

    Okay, the FAA has not been in the best position lately, but I think there is a key piece missing in the discussion.

    The FAA assesses a country's compliance with aviation standards set by the ICAO. If Mexico is not meeting ICAO standards, then the FAA is right to downgrade Mexico.

    It's important to see what standard(s) Mexico failed and who identified them. This may not be an FAA issue - it may be another oversight body calling the shots.

  5. Chase

    This is not entirely true about codesharing, in that it doesn't require it to end completely. The downgrade only applies to US carriers putting their code on and selling the Mexican carriers' operating flights, but not in the reverse. I don't believe the Mexican carriers will be able to add their code to any NEW US carrier operated flights/routes, but the existing ones can remain. All the passengers holding existing US carrier marketed flights will...

    This is not entirely true about codesharing, in that it doesn't require it to end completely. The downgrade only applies to US carriers putting their code on and selling the Mexican carriers' operating flights, but not in the reverse. I don't believe the Mexican carriers will be able to add their code to any NEW US carrier operated flights/routes, but the existing ones can remain. All the passengers holding existing US carrier marketed flights will need to be rebooked onto the Mexican carriers' prime flight numbers while this downgrade is in place.

    Reference (page 4): https://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/international_aviation/media/code_share_guidelines.pdf

  6. Aaron

    Does this mean we can't credit miles flown on Aeromexico to Delta?

  7. Steve_CC

    How many issues with the MAX were operated by US airlines???? Oh that's right, zero.

  8. Frank Venditti

    What a absolute joke the FAA telling other countries that it is going to downgrade their safety record , did they ever hear of something called the Boeing 737 Max Fiasco?

  9. Marc

    I remember when the US did the same with TACA and COPA. I was working in Costa Rica at the US Embassy and had a member of the Navy who was assigned to my office. We often had to travel to Managua and the only direct flights were on COPA and TACA. As the military would not permit its staff to fly on Cat 2 airlines, they wanted him to fly from San Jose to...

    I remember when the US did the same with TACA and COPA. I was working in Costa Rica at the US Embassy and had a member of the Navy who was assigned to my office. We often had to travel to Managua and the only direct flights were on COPA and TACA. As the military would not permit its staff to fly on Cat 2 airlines, they wanted him to fly from San Jose to Managua via Miami at a significant cost difference. I told him to take the bus as it was even faster than the flights with the connection. He hated the bus ride but was transferred shortly thereafter negating any future arguments. But it did illustrate how different agencies even within the US govt viewed the categories very differently; the State Department had no such restriction.

  10. Andy

    Well, given the track record of FAA, it would be more adequate to downgrade the US itself.

  11. JetJ0ck

    @Web

    Who are you talking about? A quick check on Wikipedia turns up multiple fatal accidents for Aeromexico.

  12. Web

    Although they may get for ratings for safety, they’re one of the only airlines in the world is in there were out of fatality or an airplane crash! In two days it will be the anniversary of American Airlines flight 191 DC 10 Chicago losing engine and just dropping out of the sky killing all on board that was the worst aviation disaster in American history and film New York City’s 9/11! Go figure!

  13. Dan777

    @Ray

    How about waiting and seeing what the FAA findings actually state? Crazy talk I know!

    Obviously you are predisposed to confirmation bias. You should keep an eye on that!

    (Eyeroll)

  14. Sir Walter Raleigh

    @Ray - see my previous comment about safety on AM and Mexican airlines in general.

    This has nothing to do with politics, snowflake.

  15. Ray

    Oh, I see. The FAA Administrator, Steve Dickson, is a Republican. This is retaliation against Delta being outspoken re: Georgia’s voting laws.

    How dare corporations raise their voice, right? *eyeroll*

  16. Ray

    So Mexico will be downgraded to Cat II, but Nigeria & Senegal are fine?

  17. Kiwi

    I’m sure this will also put on hold the maintenance of DL jet at the in GDL and QRO at the AM facilities

  18. JJ

    Very funny! This agency is willing to constantly cut corners when it comes to U.S. airlines and yet... The FAA should clean up its very own act before it tries to give lessons to other countries.

  19. Tim Dunn

    During the early months of the pandemic which also included the beginning of AM's chapter 11 reorganization, DL flew most of AM's MEX-USA flights. AM is the loser here because Mexico traffic is currently heavily US point of sale right now. Delta either has to sign those tickets over to AM with a behind the scenes impact on their joint venture or Delta will operate flights to Mexico on Delta metal in markets where it...

    During the early months of the pandemic which also included the beginning of AM's chapter 11 reorganization, DL flew most of AM's MEX-USA flights. AM is the loser here because Mexico traffic is currently heavily US point of sale right now. Delta either has to sign those tickets over to AM with a behind the scenes impact on their joint venture or Delta will operate flights to Mexico on Delta metal in markets where it is necessary to do so.
    They'll figure it out. And, as noted, the previous time only took a few months to work out. given a host of other issues between the US and Mexico, if Mexico feels it is in their interest to put pressure on the US, they have far more leverage than some might give them credit for.

  20. Sir Walter Raleigh

    I flew Aeromexico once and they were using beans and tortillas to repair some screws that were missing on the aircraft!

  21. Joe

    Interesting. I wonder if this is why my Aeromexico flight from JFK-MEX scheduled this August was first downgraded from a 787-9 to a 737. And, now, appears to again be operated by a Dreamliner. I imagine they would want to keep the capacity, in case the resolution takes a while.

  22. Sandalwood

    Last time this happened it helped to put Mexicana de aviacion out of business. Let's see what happens this time, if Mexico gets downgraded at all.

  23. Ralph4878

    Just as I was about to book them to Europe this summer...have you all seen their J fares???

  24. Scott Fitzpatrick

    The post Colgan Air 3407 fiasco and rule changes points the finger squarely at another case of a LACK of FAA oversight. In fairness, the FAA is underfunded and undermanned to fully cope with the many facets of the aviation industry.

  25. William

    Agree with George... who cares what these bloated, obscenely ineffective federal agencies say anymore. They've proven themselves far more concerned about their own survival than they are the survival of passengers or of evidence and reason.

    Mexican officials will pay off the right people in our government and "poof!" Recertified.

    Same thing at the CDC where the corrupt Dr. Fauci rules and forces even the vaccinated to fly with masks while he only...

    Agree with George... who cares what these bloated, obscenely ineffective federal agencies say anymore. They've proven themselves far more concerned about their own survival than they are the survival of passengers or of evidence and reason.

    Mexican officials will pay off the right people in our government and "poof!" Recertified.

    Same thing at the CDC where the corrupt Dr. Fauci rules and forces even the vaccinated to fly with masks while he only wears them for the cameras...

    This is what happens when your government is more concerned with controlling your life rather than improving it...

  26. Pete

    This is blatant favoritism and a protectionist act. Any action or word from the US government and its regulatory bodies are a joke and not worth listening to. If the CAAC in China or EASA in Europe have no problems with Mexican airlines flying into their countries, then the FAA needs to sit down and shut up.

    At this point, FAA documents like type certificates for planes and licenses for individuals should be met with scrutiny abroad.

  27. KS

    @James: they would have to reissue tickets to change codeshare flights to the operating carrier code.

  28. James

    How would this impact Delta/AM codeshare flights that have already been scheduled/tickets purchased?

  29. Peter

    @George Easy to say they've trashed their reputation, and I wouldn't dispute that, but they're still the ones who set the regulations. This isn't just judging their opinion, this is something the airline will be forced to deal with. That's why we/they listen.

  30. George

    Lol, who listens to these government agencies anymore?

    FAA, CDC, WHO?

    No credibility in any of them. So *shrug* - I just ignore.
    Flew around Mexico the last 6 weeks, loved it. Who cares.

  31. Alex

    The same FAA that trashed its international reputation with the 737 Max?

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Tim Dunn

Chase, the downgrade does not impact Mexican carriers' ability to codeshare on US carrier operated flights. Aaron, Delta said during an investor conference today that mileage accrual and all other marketing-related aspects of the AM-DL relationship will be unchanged.

magice

OMG the outpouring of animosity against FAA is just astounding. And, frankly, pathetic. Look, if you think FAA is incompetent, do something about it. If you are American citizen or resident, call up your representatives and have them grill FAA for why they failed to monitor Boeing properly. Oh, wait, that is going on. And FAA has been working hard to see that Boeing don't do the kind of ****ty work they did with 737MAX again. If you are not, feel free to call your national regulatory body to come hard on Boeing or Delta or American or whoever. Otherwise, please. I don't personally know what you do for a living, but I am pretty sure these inspectors are more knowledgeable and hardworking than you are at their jobs. Flying in the US is safer than driving. Think about *that*. And whom do we have to thank for all these? Private companies? Please. Just look at Boeing. FAA trusted them a bit (national pride, you understand) and they screwed up royally. And they are the engineers with reputation to protect. Think about those airlines whose main claim to money is how cheap their tickets are. You really think they give a rat*** about your personal safety? FAA is not perfect, of course. But instead of pretending that you know what you are talking about, do something about it. Otherwise, just shut up. You know less about physics of flying than they do. You have saved way fewer lives than they have. You don't have a right to speak of these public servants with such poison in your tone. Be critical, sure, but respectful.

Abey

I think there’s a huge difference to airliner type certification (max) to what I assume are everyday safety precautions here. And while I agree the FAA dropped the ball by trusting Boeing too much, dismissing the entire FAA is wrong lucky. The US has one of the worlds best records on safety aviation

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