Aviation News

January 20, 2012

FAA Downgrades Safety Ratings of Curacao and Saint Maarten, Current Flights Not Affected

The US Federal Aviation Administration on Thursday announced that it had downgraded the safety ratings of the Caribbean island nations of Curaçao and Saint Maarten from Category 1 to Category 2.

Danger sign at St. Maarten's Princess Juliana International Airport.

Danger sign at St. Maarten's Princess Juliana International Airport. (Photo by Justin Schlechter)

Both islands had previously been parts of the Netherlands Antilles, which had held a International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) rating of Category 1. Curaçao and Saint Maarten became individual countries subject to their own assessments when the Netherlands Antilles were dissolved in 2010.

According to the FAA:

A Category 2 rating means a country either lacks laws or regulations necessary to oversee air carriers in accordance with minimum international standards, or that its civil aviation authority – equivalent to the FAA for aviation safety matters – is deficient in one or more areas, such as technical expertise, trained personnel, record keeping or inspection procedures.

IASA ratings are based on ICAO standards, not FAA regulations.

Insel Air is the sole carrier operating between either of the islands and the US, as it connects Curaçao to Miami, Charlotte and San Juan. The FAA says existing service may continue, but under stronger scrutiny from FAA inspectors. New flights from those countries will not be allowed unless they regain Category 1 status.

Flights operated by US carriers to Curaçao and Saint Maarten will not be affected.