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.

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  • Henry Veeris

    As an aviation journalist, based in Curacao, I am curious to know what is the complete listing of the findings from FAA on the downgrading of Curacao from category one to two? I am interested to get such a listing of all the findings done by FAA, How far are (we) the local Curacao aviation authorities today, to gain the status 1 again from the FAA??? How long will it take Curacao gov. to move to cat. 1 again? Are they getting any help from the FAA or a certified U.S. consultant group or other????? We would like to get these questions answered……………..

    • gorblinit

      Knowing how the Americans operate, the airlines in the Category 2 country could hire a US carrier to perform all of its operations into the USA, and/or could hire a specialist (an American, naturally) to provide advice and direction on how to bring the country to IASA/ICAO Category 1 standards.

      Oscar Derby, former JCAA Chief, took Jamaica to Category 1 and was hired away to be the D-G of the Curacao CAA, but he was apparently unable to get the political cooperation needed to complete his job. If I know my Caribbean, clearly there was some person from Curacao with strong political connections who so desired the position they got Derby fired – well, good luck to them, they will need it, Category 1 is not a done deal unless you REALLY know what you are doing.