A holistic approach to FAA International Aviation Safety Assessment

Costa Rica tourism critical to economy
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Category II collaterally damages local economy

More holistic approach better long term safety and stability 

Perhaps it is time for a more holistic approach to the FAA’s International Aviation Safety Assessment program. The focus on the foreign civil aviation safety authority’s performance should remain primary. After almost two years the Directorate General of Civil Aviation of the Republic of Costa Rica found to meet Category I status. The work done now assures that US and other travellers can fly on the country’s airlines safely.

CR DGAC headquarters and seal

Below is the FAA press release on the subject documenting all of the remedial actions.

The local press’ account of the impact of Category II (below) highlights the economic consequences of our safety assessment (Curaçao’s 10 years of the lower status is even more telling .) This is a theme which has been repeated in dealing with many of the globe’s DGACs.[1]

It is not clear whether there is any correlation between aviation safety and poor economic conditions, it is obvious that a Category II determination is likely to be a burden on the subject country’s fiscal well-being. A government with diminishing revenues is not in position to direct currency for remediating the deficiencies of the DGAC and from there, a continuing negative economic spiral is highly likely for these countries.

Might not a holistic approach result in long term improvement of aviation safety and of the stability of these governments?

After 20 Months, Costa Rica Recovers Category 1 in Aeronautical Safety Granted by the US

CR ecotourism

Costa Rica regained the highest category in aeronautical safety 20 months after it was downgraded by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of the United States. The new rating was confirmed by the general director of Civil Aviation, Álvaro Vargas Segura, at 4:25 p.m. of this February 11.

“We confirm that Costa Rica has recovered category one and we hope that the Minister of Public Works and Transportation, Rodolfo Méndez Mata will communicate it. We have already made a statement and the minister will make the communication directly,” said the official. About 20 minutes later, the official reported in a press release that the notification was received through the United States Embassy in Costa Rica….

CR minister of Public Works and Transportation, Rodolfo Méndez Mata

The Minister of Public Works and Transport stressed that the recategorization represents an impulse towards the reactivation of the aeronautical industry, which in turn will have a positive impact on tourism and the national economy.

ecotourism economic impact



FAA News

Federal Aviation Administration, Washington, DC 20591


Contact: Pressoffice@faa.gov

Federal Aviation Administration Upgrades Costa Rica’s Safety Assessment Rating


Comunicado de Presena

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced today that the Republic of Costa Rica complies with international safety standards and has been granted the highest international ranking.

The FAA International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) focuses on a country’s ability to adhere to international aviation safety standards and recommended practices. The standards apply to regulators and are set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the United Nations’ technical agency for aviation.


“We commend the Directorate General of Civil Aviation of the Republic of Costa Rica’s demonstrated commitment toward effective safety oversight of Costa Rica’s aviation system,” said FAA Administrator Steve Dickson.

Costa Rica received a Category 2 rating in May 2019 after it failed to comply with ICAO’s safety standards. A Category 2 IASA rating means the country either lacks laws or regulations necessary to oversee air carriers in accordance with minimum international standards for safety matters, such as technical expertise, trained personnel, record-keeping, or inspection procedures. A Category 2 rating permits carriers from a particular country to continue providing existing service to the United States, but they are not allowed to establish new routes.

The Category 1 status announcement today is based on the reassessments in 2020 and a January 2021 safety oversight meeting with the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGAC). A Category 1 rating means the country’s civil aviation authority complies with ICAO standards. Under Category 1 rating, properly authorized Costa Rican air carriers are permitted to serve the United States and carry the code of U.S. carriers without limitation.

Through IASA, the FAA assesses the civil aviation authorities of all countries whose air carriers have either applied to fly to the United States, currently conduct operations to the United States, or participate in code sharing arrangements with U.S. partner airlines, and makes that information available to the public. The assessments are based on ICAO safety standards.

For more information on the IASA program, click here.

By U.S. Embassy San Jose | 12 February, 2021




[1] African Aviation Safety Deficiencies Create TDA Program To Bring CAAs To International Standards; Ambassador Godec, Director Fitts & Sec. Foxx, Kenya Asks For Aviation Help; A Better Approach To Aiding Our Caribbean Neighbors’ Aviation System?; EASA AUDIT Vs. SMS-Based Consultation In Pakistan; The Caribbean Aviation Safety Needs The FAA’s And USTDA’s Help, Now


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