I wasn't planning on doing it right after finishing the commercial course in the US, but since the opportunity arose, I'll start with the groundschool (theory) phase on monday, next week. I already knew to some extent what paperwork was required, so I sent the licensing personnel an e-mail and got a response with the documents required for the conversion process. I had to get an apostille for my logbook, my course certificates, a copy of my pilot and medical certificate, and a breakdown of my flights. I also have to present the original and give them a copy of my birth certificate and highschool certificate.
I went to San Diego last week to get the apostilles for those documents. It was a pretty good and efficient trip, I must say. I first had to go to the notary, then authenticate the notary's signatures and stamps in a San Diego County building, and then get the apostille at a government's office in Los Angeles. I flew with a good friend to Hawthorne with a Warrior. The FBO gave us a crew car for two hours, which were more than enough. On the return flight I knew the purser and first officer. They are good buddies and the captain was cool. So cool that I even got to fly on the jumpseat in the flight deck! It was awesome since the FO was a good friend and he showed me how things must be done. Good flying, excellent CRM, and perfect compliance of SOPs. He was the pilot flying for that trip and he made a greaser on the runway after practicing a CATII approach. While cruising we talked a lot since I hadn't seen him for a long time.
The conversion process was implemented in 2010. At first it was a mess, because nobody knew how to do it in a good way. The root of the whole issue of the conversion process for pilots that did their commercial pilot traning in another country and want to get a mexican license, is that Mexico is the only country that requires a "professional pilot's title/degree", similar to an associates degree (two years) in the subjects of a professional pilot course. So you must complete groundschool and flight time for the CPL, pass a state issued professional exam with 330+ multiple-choice questions, and pass a practical exam in the simulator with examiners present. You the get a certificate stating you passed the professional exams and go to the licensing personnel office to get your commercial pilot license.
Because the groundschool and flight time that was done in, say Canada or the US, and the total amount of hours don't comply with the professional pilot's degree time requirements, you must do a conversion course. You first complete 120 hours of theory in classroom, you do 50 hours of simulator with an instructor to comply with the ridiculous instrument rating time requirements, and fly the time assigned by the licensing director (which is normally 11 hours: 6 hours VFR in SE, 2 hours IFR, and 3 hours in a ME, with a final practical test in it). Everything estimated to cost $8,000usd.
I have no idea what subjects are shown in the theory phase, but I'll bring everything I have to prove the teacher/instructor right or wrong on what he presents. I won't do it to demonstrate I'm better than him, but for the sake of everyone present in the course, so we can learn as much as possible, supported by reliable sources. I'll buy the mexican Aeronautical Information Publication as well. I'm sure we'll learn about mexican aviation regulations, airspace, operations, communications, and navigation procedures in Mexico.
Since I got a job offer, estimated to start in a month, I'll use that month to complete the theory phase. I'll continue with the practical phase (simulator and flights) when I have money. I hope things go as planned for me, since everything sounds too good to be true!
I'll try to write more posts as the conversion course progresses. I'm sure I'll have frustrating and funny stories to share.