The new Felipe Ángeles International Airport (NLU/MMSM) in Mexico started operations today, I think that's a good thing. But I was wondering, since the last time I saw info about it, the progress was at 68%. And there was lacking reviews and certifications (at least by ICAO), supposed there is no ILS operating or installed.

There is some turmoil about this station would conflicts with MMMX, and MITRE recommendation to not operate it.

But what surprised more its, indeed, there was already a few flights departing and arriving to MMSM, so isn't supposed that the carriers isn't allowed to operate in places with no certifications. Or in last instance, this isn't convenient. I thought the secures refused to cover in situations without certifications of airworthiness?

Is this airport breaking the ICAO/FAA/EASA Directives? If so, what are the sanctions?

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    $\begingroup$ Not sure what FAA or EASA have to do with this. They have no jurisdiction in Mexico. $\endgroup$
    – Bianfable
    Mar 22, 2022 at 10:05
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    $\begingroup$ Could you please cite the certifications this airport is lacking at the moment? Regarding the confilcts with surroundin airports, Wikipedia offers us this info: The Valley of Mexico will be the first in the country where the performance-based navigation system (PBN) is used, which will allow the Felipe Ángeles International Airport, Mexico City International Airport and the Toluca International Airport to operate simultaneously without the operations of one impeding those of the others. $\endgroup$
    – Jpe61
    Mar 22, 2022 at 10:21
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    $\begingroup$ There are plenty of non-ICAO airfields around the world, they aren't subject to sanctions, they just haven't signed-up to the ICAO standards. A large airport operating outside the ICAO rules will probably not attract many international carriers but there's nothing to stop them trying. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_airport $\endgroup$ Mar 22, 2022 at 12:59
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    $\begingroup$ Is there any indication that the airport is not working towards getting the certifications? If so, it makes sense to me to open and start working out the kinks before "huge" amounts of traffic start arriving (presuming that's the goal). Just look at all the issues Denver had with their automated baggage handling system - good thing they tested that before it started loosing/destroying paying passenger's bags... $\endgroup$
    – FreeMan
    Mar 22, 2022 at 13:39
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    $\begingroup$ Related: aviation.stackexchange.com/q/91164/35166 $\endgroup$
    – StephenS
    Mar 22, 2022 at 21:25

1 Answer 1


The only significant “international” regulation is the Chicago Convention, which is deliberately broad and vague because that’s the only way everyone would agree to it.

ICAO creates recommendations to national CAAs, and then the CAAs modify them as they see fit to create their own regulations. The Chicago Convention does address whose rules apply when an aircraft or pilot from one member state operates in the airspace of another member state, but in practice the rules are close enough (and violations so infrequent) that it rarely matters.

So, ICAO is not “certifying” anything in Mexico, because they don’t do that, nor do the FAA or EASA, because they don’t have the jurisdiction to do that. It’s up to Mexico’s CAA to certify airports within Mexico.

That said, if foreign operators (or their insurers) don’t trust Mexico’s CAA, then they will choose not to operate there, and they might have discussions or agreements about such choices via industry (not regulatory) bodies such as the IATA. So, if Mexico wants foreign operators to use their new airport, their CAA will take into consideration any concerns those operators raise, which is why most CAAs adhere fairly closely to ICAO (and IATA) recommendations in the first place.


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