Flying Over Latin America and the Caribbean with FAA Acting Administrator

Last week, at our 11 ALTA Pan American Aviation Safety Summit in Sao Paulo, I had the pleasure to talk with Billy Nolen, Acting Administrator of the FAA, and learn more about the main projects being developed in the region, especially in Brazil, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America, markets that are achieving an outstanding recovery compared to the other regions of the world.

June 14, 2022

ALTA NEWS - Flying Over Latin America and the Caribbean with FAA Acting Administrator

Dear colleagues,

Last week, at our 11 ALTA Pan American Aviation Safety Summit in Sao Paulo, I had the pleasure to talk with Billy Nolen, Acting Administrator of the FAA, and learn more about the main projects being developed in the region, especially in Brazil, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America, markets that are achieving an outstanding recovery compared to the other regions of the world.

For this reason, today I am delighted to share with you this edition of Flying Over Latin America and the Caribbean so that everyone can know more about the partnership we have with the FAA and the efforts they are developing to continue raising safety standards.

I would like to highlight a statement that I consider very important for the safety culture, which applies to all stakeholders of the air transport value chain and that is: “Safety is not “one and done.” It’s a journey”, they are certainly long-term efforts and, as Administrator Nolen says, we now have technologies that allow us to collect, analyze and share data and turn safety efforts into predictive efforts.

I wish you a good reading and until a next flight,


Jose Ricardo Botelho


 Q1. Which are the main projects in Latin American & the Caribbean?

A1. The FAA has ongoing efforts to enhance and advance aviation safety in Brazil, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America/Panama. Some of the highlights are listed below.

In Brazil, FAA subject matter experts from the FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation have met regularly with officials from the Brazilian Space Agency (AEB) since 2019 to share U.S. regulations and best practices for public safety. This sharing has enabled the AEB to model existing FAA’s commercial space transportation regulations as they develop regulations for Brazil. The FAA is working closely with AEB as it develops its capabilities at the spaceport in Alcântara which is the largest and most prominent spaceport in Latin America. The FAA also is partnering with other U.S. Government Agencies and Brazilian aviation entities on cybersecurity for civil aviation.

Mexico is the largest destination for U.S. air passengers so ensuring the safety of the traveling public is our common goal. We continue to provide technical advice to the Mexican Civil Aviation Authority to help bring its aviation system into compliance with international standards established by International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). In addition, the FAA works closely with Mexico on other important civil aviation issues, like cybersecurity and incorporating drones into already complex airspace.

The FAA and 16 Caribbean Civil Aviation Authorities created the “Caribbean Aviation Resilience and Recovery Group,” or “CARRG,” in 2019 to strengthen coordination on civil aviation resilience and recovery from emergency events in the region. The CARRG meets quarterly to share information on best practices and to discuss needs among member states in disaster preparedness and emergency response. In May 2022, the FAA hosted an in-person working session to begin to establish the operation framework for a mutual aid program in the Caribbean, which would enable airports to assist one another during emergency events.

Last month, the FAA Office of International Affairs partnered with ICAO, North American, Central American and the Caribbean Regional Office to host the 4th Ministerial Meeting of Transportation Ministers of the six member states that make up the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA). The meeting provided ministers of the ECCAA states with an understanding of the actions needed to address safety oversight deficiencies identified during both the FAA’s IASA and ICAO Universal Safety Oversight Audit Program (USOAP). The transportation ministers agreed to provide the Director General of ECCAA with the authority and overt support he needs to develop and sustain a harmonized safety oversight process for ECCAA member states.


Central America/Panama

In Central America and Panama, the FAA is partnering with the ICAO regional offices in Mexico City and Lima, as well as Airports Council International – Latin America/Caribbean to provide support to airport personnel and civil aviation authorities to begin or expand the airport certification process for international airports. According to data provided by ICAO, only six airports are certified out of 21 international airports in Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. The U.S. Government is providing funding for three airports to participate in safety reviews and to receive specific training to improve their levels of safety and compliance with ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices.

In addition, the FAA is working with the ICAO regional office in Mexico City to create runway safety teams at specific international airports in Central American states. The safety teams will help airports and civil aviation authorities comply with ICAO standards; promote the identification of hazards related to runway safety; develop and implement action plans; collect data and share runway safety best practices.


Q2. How has been the work between FAA and ALTA?

A2. The FAA and ALTA have a shared commitment to a safer and more efficient air transportation system. We have enjoyed a strong partnership for many years and we have worked together to address safety and air navigation challenges in Latin America and the Caribbean.

I am honored that the ALTA Pan-American Aviation Safety Summit was one of my first international trips as acting FAA Administrator.


Q3.        Any message for ALTA members?

A3. The FAA values its partnership with ALTA and looks forward to even greater collaboration in the future on our continued efforts to improve safety, efficiency and sustainability throughout the Latin American and Caribbean region. We expect to continue to see significant aviation growth, particularly in Brazil and other Latin American countries.


Q4. What is your vision for FAA in the next years? Where is the focus?

A4. The FAA’s continued mission is to provide the safest, most efficient aerospace system in the world. The FAA continually focuses on how to ensure the safety of flight while embracing emerging technology and innovation. The agency is working on rulemaking so drones can safely operate beyond visual line of sight. Also within the next two years, there will be guidance on how electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft will operate in areas traditionally used by aircraft for passenger and cargo service. The goal is to have an industry that is safe, efficient and adaptable to an ever-changing environment.


Q5. Reading your resume, we can see that safety marked your career. In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges for safety professionals today?

A5. The FAA has been successful in taking a proactive approach to aviation safety. Our goal now is to become predictive. We’ve seen the benefits of Safety Management Systems, or SMS, in driving down safety risk for commercial aviation, which is why we are working to expand SMS requirements to manufacturers, airports, and aviation service providers. And from proactive initiatives like SMS, fatigue risk management, and other efforts, we have gained a significant amount of safety data. The more we can collect, analyze, and share safety data, and discuss safety issues openly and transparently between stakeholders throughout the world, the better we can achieve a fully predictive aviation safety system. The safety picture continues to change. We can’t get complacent. Safety is not “one and done.” It’s a journey. As safety organizations, we must continue to improve our safety culture. We must continue to learn and share best practices, as we integrate the game-changing innovations that are happening in the aviation industry today. This includes new and emerging user entrants like drones, advanced air mobility, and commercial space transportation; as well as supersonic business jets, alternatively powered aircraft, high-altitude long endurance uncrewed balloons, and other innovative aircraft still in the development phase.


Q6. In terms of safety, what is FAA working and the role of ALTA to support?

A6. We are expanding SMS and safety data analysis capabilities. We also are working on rulemaking to accommodate drones operating in beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) mode safely and provide guidance on how to safely integrate electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft into the airspace system. Since the industry is ever evolving, it is imperative that safety organizations like ours collaborate and share safety information. There will always be new innovations and technology that require the FAA to share the airspace, but we have to be agile and safely coexist. The best practices will be paramount for us to share as these new opportunities in aviation arise.


About ALTA

ALTA is a private non-profit association serving the airline industry whose objective is to develop a safer, more efficient, and sustainable aviation in Latin America and the Caribbean. ALTA coordinates collaborative efforts throughout the entire value chain maximizing the impact that aviation has on the economic and social growth of the region for the benefit of industry, nations, and populations served by air transport.

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