An incident at Mexico City International Airport in which two jets nearly collided on the runway has prompted an investigation into safety protocols, the resignation of a key official, and a significant reduction of operations at one of Latin America’s busiest gateways.
A video of Saturday’s near-miss shows two Volaris (an ultra-low-cost Mexican airline) planes – one is seen descending to land and flying directly over the other, which is about to take off.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, when asked about the incident at a press conference on Monday, said, “There was an error. An investigation is ongoing.” Noting that the problem of air traffic at the airport should be addressed, he added: “Inform people that there’s no danger. We are responsible. All personnel working in aviation are professionals and people who don’t wish for misfortune.”
Deputy Transport Minister Rogelio Jimenez Pons, however, did not downplay the significance of the incident, saying it was “This is a very serious and alarming event.”
He stressed the fact that pilots acted quickly to prevent a crash. The same was confirmed by Enrique Beltranena who is the CEO of Volaris, and ordered an internal investigation.
Pons believes that the near-miss was likely due to an error in air traffic control. According to Pons, the lack of air traffic controllers makes it more difficult.
“To be able to do such a difficult job, these specialists need fair working conditions.” he said in an interview with El Universal.
Pons stated in an interview that 25% of Mexico City International’s operations would be moved over the next twelve months to reduce the airport load. The majority will still be performed at Felipe Angeles International Airport. He stated that the transition would begin in August or September.
Victor Hernandez, director of Navigation Services in Mexico Air Space (SENEAM), announced his resignation on May 8th, just a few days after the nearly-miss.
This followed a report of the International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations (IFALPA), which was published on May 4 and raised concerns over frequent incidents at Mexico City International.
“IFALPA was made aware by several instances in the last month of aircraft arriving at MMMX low-fuel states. These incidents were due to unplanned hold, divertions for extreme delays and large GPWS alerts. One crew nearly had a Controlled Flight into Terrain.,” the report said.
In May 2021, The US Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) downgraded Mexico’s aviation safety rating from category 1 to 2, meaning the US will continue to allow Mexican airlines to conduct flights into the US, but they cannot add new routes.
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