More Mexico Permit Changes: Part 1 – Positive Developments for GA
This business aviation blog is part of a series on Mexico landing permit changes.
On June 18, 2014 the Direccion General de Aueronatuica Civil (DGAC) released regulatory changes, effective on June 3, 2014, which significantly increase flexibility for many foreign registered general aviation (GA) operators traveling to Mexico.
It’s now once again allowable for foreign-registered private non-revenue operators, who are also on a charter certificate, to fly to Mexico as a private non-revenue flight when they possess the applicable permit – clarifying the DGAC’s previous regulations put in place on April 7, 2014.
These rule changes not only enhance flexibility for foreign-based charter certificate holders who also operate as private non-revenue, but should also help increase GA traffic and safety in Mexico.
The following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. Overview of regulatory changes
Recent regulatory changes, advised by Mandatory Circular CO SA-02/14 R1, impact operators who travel to Mexico as private non-revenue flights, including operators of aircraft on charter (non-scheduled commercial) certificates that choose to travel to Mexico as private non-revenue flights. The most important change is that the June 3, 2014 circular lifts former restrictions which barred operators with aircraft listed on a charter certificate from operating those same aircraft to Mexico as private non-revenue flights. This rule had the most significant impact on aircraft owners who participate in a charter management program. For operators from the U.S., the April 7, 2014 circular contained a provision requiring local authorities to check the registration number of the aircraft in the FAA’s database to ensure that the aircraft had not previously performed charter services. For reference, we discussed the restrictions implemented with the April 7 circular in depth in these previous articles:
- Mexico Landing Permit Changes – Part 1: Private Ops
- Mexico Landing Permit Changes – Part 2: Charter Operations
Now the language of the June 3 circular has been changed to only restrict aircraft which enter Mexico under a private non-revenue permit from operating as charter while in Mexico. The requirement that local authorities check the FAA’s database to see if the aircraft has operated as a charter has been removed. Instead, the new circular reads that if it is discovered that an aircraft, which entered Mexico under a private non-revenue permit, performs charter services while in Mexico, authorities can impose sanctions and detain the aircraft. Therefore, it is important to only operate as private non-revenue when you enter Mexico under a private non-revenue permit.
As part of the new changes in the June 3, 2014 circular, you should also be aware that the DGAC is now tracking all of your flight legs – monitoring flight plans, crew and passenger information – to determine that each leg is compliant in terms of the declared type of flight. Be mindful that this circular is published in Spanish and will need to be translated to English (or your language of choice).
2. Benefits – a lift on restrictions
This is a very important regulatory change as it allows foreign operators with charter certificates the duality of operating to Mexico as either charter or private, provided that they operate under the correct permit according to the circumstance.
Previously, based on Mandatory Circular CO SA-02/2014 issued on April 7, operators with aircraft listed on a charter certificate could not operate those same aircraft to Mexico as private non-revenue flights. However, a joint coalition of organizations – which included the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), the FAA, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the U.S. Embassy in Mexico, and Universal Weather and Aviation, Inc. – came together and advocated to lift this restriction.
Note that also as a private flight, an aircraft may stay in Mexico for up to six months – so long as the aircraft enters under a private non-revenue permit and does not perform charter services while in Mexico under that private non-revenue permit.
3. History behind the restrictions
The objective of the April 7, 2014 circular was to stop cabotage in Mexico by private N-registered aircraft. This rule change came into place as a result of a decision by DGAC following the investigation of a high-profile accident involving a private aircraft in Mexico. It was determined that this particular aircraft was committing cabotage as it was actually a charter trip in the guise of a private non-revenue flight. Mexican authorities want to eliminate cabotage infractions, and the April 7, 2014 and June 3, 2014 circulars stem from that concern. Note that these circulars, and associated regulatory changes, only impact private non-revenue operators who also operate as charter aircraft and travel to Mexico.
4. Increased monitoring of passengers on private flights
With the June 3, 2014 circular, authorities now will maintain a database, with all crew and passenger information, in order to monitor all private flight legs into and within Mexico. This database is something DGAC will use for their own internal purposes, and information is manually loaded into the system by comandantes at each airport. It’s enforced by airport comandantes who will check all passenger information against the database to ensure/determine that all passengers are associated with the aircraft owner/operator and that the flight does not involve cabotage. This new database, and monitoring procedure, applies to all private aircraft traveling to Mexico.
5. You can still change passengers on a private flight
While all passengers on private flights to and within Mexico are now being monitored and logged in the database, you may change passengers on a particular flight leg. It’s best, however, to provide new passenger details for the flight leg to local airport comandantes 24 hours in advance of the estimated time of arrival and departure in order to avoid possible delays on the ground. If you wait until arrival to revise passenger information, you may experience delays while the comandante reviews passenger information and re-approves a permit.
Lifting the restriction on operators with aircraft listed on a charter certificate from operating those same aircraft to Mexico as private non-revenue flights is a huge achievement, and we applaud the Mexican authorities for taking these steps to clarify the regulations. To avoid delays/issues with private operations to Mexico it’s best to avoid last minute manifest changes and to work closely with your 3rd-party provider to update Mexican authorities on any changes – especially for short notice trip and manifest changes.
Later we’ll discuss issues and penalties for Mexico and their impact on your trip.