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Mexican Aviation Audit: Path to Category 1 and the Road Ahead

On June 2, 2023, the audit of the International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) program concluded, which began on Monday, May 29. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of the United States conducted this audit on the Mexican Federal Civil Aviation Agency (AFAC) to assess whether Mexican aviation remains in Category 2.

The FAA has 40 days to issue its official opinion and communicate it to the Mexican authorities. There are two points of concern for the FAA: the medical field and accident investigation. These concerns stem from the recent reforms in the laws of the Federal Public Administration, Airports, and Civil Aviation, regarding the protection of Mexican airspace, and the implementation of these reforms remains uncertain. The Executive Director of Aviation Safety, General Edgar Osvaldo Ahedo Agraz, internally communicated the following to regional and airport commanders:

"The FAA audit has concluded comprehensively with satisfactory results. With the goal of regaining Category 1 status in aviation, let us continue working diligently to achieve continuous improvement and strengthen our position as an aviation authority."

Officially, the Ministry of Infrastructure, Communications, and Transportation (SICT) has not made any official statements regarding the conclusion of the audit nor issued any press releases on its website.

For the past two years, Mexico has been downgraded by the FAA due to various safety findings that exposed deficiencies in the Mexican aviation authority's processes. In fact, the FAA conducted another audit of the Federal Civil Aviation Agency (AFAC) in late 2022, which revealed an increase from 28 to 39 findings. Another issue that affects the situation is the militarization of the AFAC, where inexperienced personnel without civilian training are making important decisions, resulting in uninformed choices.

As the FAA's final opinion approaches, it is crucial for Mexican aviation to address the concerns raised and work towards implementing necessary improvements. The aviation industry plays a vital role in the country's economy, and regaining Category 1 status will enhance Mexico's position in the global aviation community.

The transparency and efficiency of the AFAC's operations, along with a commitment to continuous improvement and adherence to international safety standards, are key factors in restoring confidence in Mexican aviation. The progress made thus far should serve as a foundation for further developments, paving the way for a safer and more reliable aviation system in Mexico.

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