Airlines from Mexico are now able to launch new services to the United States following a finding by the FAA that Mexico complies with...

Airlines from Mexico are now able to launch new services to the United States following a finding by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that Mexico complies with international safety standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

The finding by the FAA, which is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, is based on the results of a November review the agency conducted of the oversight standards and practices of Mexico’s civil aviation authority.

Its review has prompted the FAA to give Mexico’s aviation authority a Category 1 safety rating under ICAO’s International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) system. The United States allows airlines from any country with an IASA Category 1 safety rating to add services to the U.S., as long as the air services agreement between the U.S. and that country provides for additional services between them.

A previous review of Mexico’s aviation authority led the FAA in July to downgrade Mexico’s IASA safety rating to Category 2. The U.S. allows airlines from countries with Category 2 safety oversight to maintain their existing services to the United States, but not to add any new services.

Mexican low-cost carrier Volaris Airlines operates an all-Airbus A320-family fleet of A319s and A320s. The fleet mainly consists of A319s because of the type's excellent performance from high-altitude airports such as Toluca, where Volaris is based, and Mexico City

The award of a Category 1 IASA rating means a country’s civil aviation authority complies with ICAO standards. According to the FAA, a Category 2 rating means a country either lacks laws or regulations necessary to oversee air carriers in accordance with minimum international standards, or that its civil aviation authority – equivalent to the FAA for aviation safety matters – is deficient in one or more areas, such as technical expertise, trained personnel, record-keeping or inspection procedures.

Following its November review the FAA says that, under the leadership of Secretary Juan Molinar and Director General Hector Gonzalez Weeks, Mexico has made significant progress in safety oversight and is now upgraded from the Category 2 safety rating the country received in July to Category 1. The FAA also says that, at Mexico’s request, the U.S. civil aviation authority will continue to provide technical assistance to support and maintain the changes that Mexico’s civil aviation authority has made.

As part of the FAA’s IASA monitoring program, the agency assesses the civil aviation authorities of all countries with airlines that operate or have applied to fly to the United States, and makes the overall results of its assessments available to the public. The assessments determine whether or not foreign civil aviation authorities are meeting ICAO safety standards, not FAA regulations.

Countries with airlines that fly to the United States must adhere to the safety standards of ICAO, the United Nations’ technical agency for aviation. ICAO establishes international standards and recommended practices for aircraft operations and maintenance.

For more information on the IASA program, visit

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