By 2015, the commercial aviation market represented 74.8 million passengers and more than 695,000 tons of cargo. The expectations for 2020 are to transport over 111 million passengers and over 775,000 tons of cargo.

As Mexico strives to consolidate its place as a global aviation hub, Pablo Carranza, Aviation Director of the Mexican Civil Aviation General Management, spoke to the Mexico Aerospace Forum 2016 on Wednesday in Mexico City about some of the challenges the industry faces and the projects that are still to be finalized.

The areas of opportunity are clear, including the negotiation of new bilateral air transportation agreements, the exploitation of new routes and destinations and the development of unmanned aircraft. “This without mentioning companies interested in going into the space sector by launching rockets or satellites,” added Carranza during the event held at the Sheraton Maria Isabel hotel. However, to make this a reality there are various areas to address.

The first issue is the investment and development of the national logistics platform. Carranza sees regulation compliance and airport vigilance as two of the main priorities in this area, particularly in the country’s main operating hubs like Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey. “The investment in the AICM has been over MX$34 million (US$1.8 million) and our goal now is to support the completion of NAICM,” he added.

Along with the physical infrastructure, air space needs to be restructured. “We must develop better routes considering cost reductions, fuel consumption and polluting emissions,” said Carranza. “The government’s goal is to have most routes under this system by 2020.” Improving security through aircraft, personnel, infrastructure and processes are all among the strategies DGAC is using to achieve this, leaning on the government, the private sector and associations like CANAERO.

“New programs are being enforced, including the Safety Management System, the State Safety Program and the Runway Safety Team,” stated Carranza. “In addition, we are implementing the ISAGO program focused on platform accident reduction, IOSA for operative management evaluation and ISBAO for quality standards regarding executive aviation.”

DGAC’s priorities also include helicopters and drones. The Helicopter Safety Team (HST-México) is in charge of monitoring helicopter-related incidents and between 2006 and 2016 there were 98 accidents recorded with only three happening in 2016. In terms of drones, the DGAC updated the AV-23/10 R3 regulation establishing the requirements for operating an unmanned aircraft remotely.

One of the most important areas of opportunity for Mexico is the strengthening of its agreements on air transportation. “The country has signed 51 agreements with 51 countries involving number of airlines per country, routes and traffic rights, among other topics,” added Carranza. “Another 21 agreements are pending signature while 12 are still under negotiation.

Of these collaborations, BASA is the most important for Mexico at an international level. “Our relationship with the US is key for our country’s development but it needs to be supported by a strong manufacturing backbone,” said Carranza. “There is no aircraft, engine or propeller fully assembled in Mexico but we can support transnational companies by ensuring the best quality in our operations.”

The aerospace industry in Mexico is divided in three main segments. Seventy-nine percent of the industry focuses on manufacturing operations, 11 percent handles MRO operations and the remaining 10 percent is directed to R&D operations. “To support BASA, the industry must comply with international standards regarding approval of design and production, maintenance of aeronavigation systems and technical assistance among several leading parties.”

Growth and renovation of fleets is also mandatory for the industry to evolve. “There is a growing trend of incrementing and renovating fleets at an annual 9.1 percent rate, incorporating modern units like the BOEING 787-9 Dreamliner and the AIRBUS A320 NEO,” explained Carranza.

As companies bring in new technology, best international practices are also essential to guarantee safety, efficiency and regularity in air transportation. “We have developed a strong training network throughout the country and 109 flight simulators have been approved nationally so far,” said Carranza.

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