On April 8, 2015, the DGAC issued a new mandatory circular CO AV-23/10 R2 that “establishes the requirements to operate RPAS” (the Circular) to be more in line with the regulatory regimes of other countries that have developed such regulations. The Circular supersedes and replaces the prior mandatory circular CO AV-23/10 R1. The Circular is applicable to :
- all individuals and entities that intend to operate or currently operate RPAS;
- all RPAS operating in Mexico, including those belonging to the Mexican government, except for those having a national security purpose; and
- all RPAS regardless of the place of manufacture or design.
Under the Circular, RPAS consist of a RPA and other items for its support, such as: (a) a control station; (b) a data link; (c) telemetry; and (d) navigation equipment, among others; provided, however, that a pilot on the ground must control the RPA.
The methodology under the new Circular for classification of the RPAS is different from that previously used by the DGAC (e.g. micro RPAS are 2 kg. or less; light RPAS are more than 2 kg. up to 25 kg.; heavy RPAS are more than 25 kg). In addition, the RPAS operator should determine whether the RPAS is to be used for recreational or commercial use because the requirements and limitations (e.g., maximum flight altitude, speed limits, insurance policies, authorizations) for each of the RPAS classifications depend on their use/category and may vary depending on the purpose of the use.
Likewise, there are some general limitations that apply to all three categories and use types, including the following limitations:
- throwing or dropping objects from the RPA that may cause any damage or injury to persons is prohibited;
- operation of the RPA is limited to class G airspace only, unless certain exceptions apply, such as prior coordination with the Air Traffic Services;
- the RPA must avoid prohibited, restricted, or dangerous areas established in the publication of aviation information, as well as those areas that from time to time could be restricted by the DGAC;
- at all times, the RPAS operator should maintain control of the RPA’s flight path;
- those who misuse or negligently use RPAS are subject to certain penalties; and
- the RPAS’ operation must be carried out only during daytime and in visual flight rules conditions, unless there is a special authorization by the DGAC for flights at nighttime or in Instrument flight rules conditions.
Any issues not addressed in the Circular must be resolved based upon criteria established by the DGAC. RPAS operators may seek to obtain an authorization from the DGAC for the operation of RPAS with characteristics different from those mentioned above, provided that such an operation would meet the safety levels provided by compliance with the limitations set forth in the Circular.
For further information about the applicability of the Circular or any other aviation matter, please contact Ramón Bravo H., partner of the Aviation practice area of Hogan Lovells in Mexico (Mexico City), E. Tazewell Ellett, partner and chairman of the Hogan Lovells UAS group (Washington, D.C.), counsel Patrick R. Rizzi (Washington, D.C.), or associate Julio Zugasti (Mexico City).