MEXICO CITY ( Associated Press) — Air traffic controllers have registered a new risk situation in flight operations in Mexico City, at a time when Mexican aviation authorities are trying to respond to reports from international pilot and airline associations about serious confusion in the skies of the Mexican capital.
Government officials indicated that a flight to the Benito Juárez International Airport received permission to land on a runway where another aircraft was about to take off on Saturday night. This came just hours after transportation officials created a working group to discuss the increase in dangerous incidents in Mexico City’s airspace.
The director of the Navigation Services in the Mexican Air Space (Seneam), which manages the country’s airspace, submitted a letter of resignation dated Friday. The Secretariat of Infrastructure, Communications and Transportation, to which the agency belongs, initially denied having knowledge of at least 17 incidents of alerts in the ground proximity warning system (GPWS) for planes that made their approach to the capital’s airport during last year, and only confirmed one incident last year.
Last week, the International Air Transport Association, which represents about 290 airlines, wrote to Seneam to express its concern about these risky situations.
“As you know, these alarms, without prompt action by the flight crew, can lead to a CFIT (controlled impact into ground) scenario, considered by the industry to be one of the highest indicators of risk in Operational Safety, and with a higher rate of accidents, as well as fatalities”, was indicated in the letter.
The International Federation of Air Line Pilots Associations also issued a safety bulletin on these incidents last week. It hinted that air traffic controllers have not received enough training on the reconfiguration of the capital’s airspace carried out last year in anticipation of the March opening of the new Felipe Angeles International Airport, which is north of the city. Mexico City.
José Alfredo Covarrubias, general secretary of the National Union of Air Traffic Controllers, hinted on Monday that Seneam officials had not reported all the incidents in the capital’s airspace. The reconfiguration of airspace, he claimed, was causing aborted takeoffs and landings, and planes flying too close together.
“It’s definitely the bad redesign, poorly done,” Covarrubias said. “There are areas where security is not guaranteed.”
Víctor Hernández Sandoval, who resigned as director of Seneam on Friday, did not mention the incidents in his resignation letter. He had been at the head of the agency since December 2018. Undersecretary of Transportation Rogelio Jiménez Pons, who announced an investigation into the most recent risk incident at the airport, said that Hernández’s resignation was accepted.
The two aircraft involved in Saturday’s incident belonged to the Mexican airline Volaris.
Volaris CEO Enrique Beltranena tweeted on Sunday that “Thanks to the training of our pilots and their impeccable monitoring of the processes, no passenger or crew member was at risk.” He assured that he immediately requested an investigation by the aviation authorities.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Monday that the problems will be addressed, but also hinted that they are being exaggerated and blamed them on the conservative opposition.
“Communication has already been established since the weekend. There is a dialogue table”, she affirmed. “Of course there is a need to address the problem.”