Contributor: Andrés Remis, Juan Carlos Machorro and Ricardo Orea
1. Are UAS considered as “aircraft” in your country?
Yes. They are considered as aircraft: RPAS (Remote Piloted Aircraft Systems) or RPA (Remote Piloted Aircraft).
2. Which bodies regulate the remotely-piloted and/or unmanned aircraft operations in your country, under what basic laws?
The Ministry of Communications and Transportation (Secretaría de Comunicaciones y Tranportes) through the General Bureau of Civil Aeronautics (Dirección General de Aeronáutica Civil) (“DGAC”) under the Civil Aviation Law (Ley de Aviación Civil) and mandatory rules “CO AV23/10 R4” issued by the DGAC.
3. Is there a distinction between “State UAS” and “Private UAS”?
Yes. State RPAS and RPA include military, police, border patrol, marine patrol, among others and are regulated through the provisions established on article 37 of the Civil Aviation Law. Private RPAS are classified by a weight and type of use criteria and are regulated through mandatory rules “CO AV23/10 R4”.
4. Is there any distinction between public, leisure and commercial UAS? What regulations are provided for UAS operations in each group?
Yes, the regulation distinguishes recreational private RPA, non-recreational private RPA, and commercial RPA.
5. Is there a distinction, in terms of regulation, between completely autonomous UAS and remotely-piloted UAS?
Yes. Mandatory rules “CO AV23/10 R4” only applies to remotely-piloted RPA. Autonomous aircraft (UAS) and RPA operated indoors are not regulated by mandatory rules “CO AV23/10 R4”.
Regulation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (“UAS”) Operations - Safety
6. How are UAS operations regulated in terms of safety?
Through mandatory rules “CO AV23/10 R4”.
7. Is the applicable regulation considering the rule of 1 UAS = 1 pilot?
Yes. These mandatory rules “CO AV23/10 R4” establish 1 (one) pilot per RPA; however, crew per RPA is also considered for other operation-related aspects of RPAS.
Regulation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems ("UAS") Operations - Licensing
8. What procedures are there to obtain licenses or the rights to operate UAS?
Procedures to obtain RPAS licenses are established on mandatory rules “CO AV23/10 R4”. Requirements depend on the size (light or small, medium and heavy) of the RPA. Also, registration within the DGAC depends on the RPA characteristics.
9. Are there any kind of taxes or fees regarding the licensing procedure?
Yes. There are fees for licensing and registration.
10. Is a Certificate of Airworthiness mandatory to operate a UAS?
A Certificate of Airworthiness can be required depending on the RPA characteristics and use (i.e., heavy RPAS for commercial use).
11. Is access to the market for the provision of UAS operation services regulated and, if so, how?
Yes. Mandatory rules “CO AV23/10 R4” are aimed for all entities and people willing to operate an RPAS under commercial, recreational private, and non-recreational private scopes.
12. What requirements apply in the areas of financial strength and nationality of ownership regarding control of UAS?
No limitation exists to ownership as long as the RPA is registered with the Mexican Aeronautic Registry.
13. Is drone transport permitted / regulated in your country?
No. Mandatory rules “CO AV23/10 R4” do not regulate RPA as transportation aircraft/vehicles; however, RPAS are authorized to operate with load and/or cargo onboard.
Regulation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems ("UAS") - Operations - Others
14. Is there a specific Data & Privacy Protection regulation applicable to UAS operations?
Yes, there is the Electronic Registry of RPAS (Registro Electrónico de RPAS) at the Mexican Aeronautic Registry, regulated through the Law on Transparency and Access to Information (Ley de Transparencia y Acceso a la Información).
15. Is there a specific control-link interference regulation applicable to UAS operations?
There is no specific regulation; however, communication interference in general is regulated in the General Communications Law (Ley de Vías Generales de Comunicación).
16. Do specific rules regulate UAS manufacturers?
Mandatory rules number “CO AV23/10 R4” establish that Mexican RPAS manufacturers must register and notify the DGAC and/or the Ministry of Communications and Transportation of RPAS sold with a take-off weight exceeding 250 grams.
17. What requirements must a foreign UAS operator satisfy in order to operate to or from your country?
Foreign RPAS operators and foreign registered RPAS cannot operate in Mexico unless a bilateral agreement between Mexico and the foreign country exists. Foreign registered RPAS to operate for scientific purposes must apply for a special permit before the Ministry of Defense (Secretaría de la Defensa Nacional).
18. Are fares or pricing of UAS operations regulated and, if so, how?
RPAS fares or pricing are not regulated.
The Aircraft (“UAS”)
19. Must UAS be registered in any particular register?
Yes. RPAS must be registered with the Mexican Aeronautic Registry.
20. Who is entitled to be mentioned in the UAS register?
RPAS’ manufacturer and owner.
21. Do requirements or limitations apply to the ownership of a UAS listed on your country’s register?
22. Do specific rules regulate the maintenance of UAS?
23. Which are the operational and distance limitations for an aerial work with a UAS? Is there any kind of certificate or permission to operate beyond those limitations?
On a general basis, RPAS are only allowed to fly “G” (golf) airspace, under visual flight rules (VFR), in places (whether they are open or closed) where 12 (twelve) people or less are met, and under 10 nautical miles out of any airport or aerodrome. Also, RPAS pilots must operate the RPAS on a line-sight-view (línea de vista). Under special authorization, RPAS can perform night and instrumental flight rules (IFR) operations. Further limitations must be observed depending on the size, use, and/or characteristics of the RPAS.
24. Are UAS obliged to take off from and/or land in specific facilities?
Mandatory rules “CO AV23/10 R4” do not establish specific facilities for take-off or landing.
25. Which kind of airspaces are UAS permitted to operate with?
RPAS are permitted to operate within “G” (Golf) airspace. If the specifications and the characteristics of the RPAS allow it, access to “D” (Delta) airspace can be permitted prior to authorization and coordination with the air traffic control entity in charge of such airspace.
26. Which airspaces are restricted for UAS?
RPAS are permitted to operate within “G” (Golf) airspace. “D” (Delta) airspace can be permitted (see question 25). Further access to other airspace must be requested to the air traffic control entity in charge of such airspace. Visual corridors are also restricted to RPAS but can be accessed prior to air traffic control authorization.
27. Which zones are UAS operations banned?
RPAS are banned from all prohibited, restricted, and dangerous zones as established in aeronautical information publications (also known as AIP) in Mexico, section ENR 5.1.
28. Who provides air traffic control services for UAS in your country?
Air traffic control services for RPAS are provided by Servicios a la Navegación en el Espacio Aéreo Mexicano (SENEAM), which is the Mexican governmental body in charge of providing air traffic control services on all controlled airspaces in Mexico.
Liability and Accidents
29. Are there any special rules in respect of loss or damage to cargo?
Mandatory rules “CO AV23/10 R4” provide that RPAS must have insurance covering damages against third parties. There is no specific regulation on cargo related operations.
30. Are there any special rules about the liability of UAS operators for surface damage?
Mandatory rules “CO AV23/10 R4” provide that RPAS must have insurance covering damages against third parties.
31. Is there a mandatory accident and incident reporting system and, if so, how does it operate?
There is no accident or incident reporting system for RPAS in Mexico.
32. What system and procedures are in place for the investigation of UAS accidents?
There are no specific systems or procedures for the investigation of RPA accidents. The DGAC is in charge of all air accident investigations.
33. Are UAS operators obliged to have insurance for their operations? If so, which are their main features?
Yes. Mandatory rules “CO AV23/10 R4” establish that the RPAS must have insurance covering damages against third parties.
34. What is insured? The operator, the business or the aircraft?
Financial Support and State Aid
35. Are there sector-specific rules regulating direct or indirect financial support to companies by the government or government-controlled agencies or companies (state aid) in the UAS sector? If not, do general state aid rules apply?
36. What are the main principles of the stated aid rules applicable to the UAS sector?
37. Are there exemptions from the state aid rules or situations in which they do not apply?
38. Must clearance from the competition authorities be obtained before state aid may be granted?
Please note that the DGAC is currently working in preparing a new set of regulations on RPAS expected to be passed during the first quarter of 2018.