Airline group says flying to Mexico City is getting more dangerous


(Bloomberg) – An airline group and pilots association are sounding the alarm over Mexico City airspace, saying they have seen a worrying increase in ground proximity warning events since the space’s redesign. last year.

Benito Juarez International Airport has recorded at least 17 such warnings since April 2021 as part of an alert system that warns when planes are at risk of hitting the ground or an obstacle, according to a letter signed by the Association. international air transport and sent to Mexico. aeronautical authorities.

“We want to express our concern, shared by our international members, at the significant increase in ground proximity warning events in the terminal area of ​​Mexico City International Airport,” reads the letter, dated May 3, from the IATA Americas Regional Director of Operations. , Security safety. The letter was addressed to the head of the navigation services agency in Mexico, Seneam.

The agency said it had received nothing from IATA. The group confirmed that they sent the letter to the agency.

In addition, the International Federation of Airline Pilots Associations said there have been several incidents over the past month in which planes have arrived with low fuel due to unscheduled holds and diversions for excessive delays. The association said this was due to the opening of Felipe Angeles Airport in March, which required a controversial overhaul of the capital’s airspace. Air traffic control has “apparently received little training and support on how to operate this new configuration,” according to a statement.

Read more: AMLO’s new airport opens with Hoopla, review, 8 flights a day

Felipe Angeles Airport is located approximately 50 kilometers (31 miles) north of the center of the capital and is intended to relieve congestion at Benito Juarez Airport. But experts said the redesign was flawed and ignored the metropolis’ unique geography – Mexico’s capital is mostly surrounded by mountains and its elevation is over 7,000 feet (2,100 meters), making it more difficult aircraft landing.

In its letter, IATA said the changes have led to “a very concerning situation” which has triggered the alerts and led operators to take urgent mitigation action. The organization, which represents the world’s airlines and was founded in 1945, cited data that showed the main contributing factor to the events was a lack of adherence to communication protocols between flight crews and air traffic controllers. on the ground.

Mexico’s aviation safety rating was downgraded by the United States Federal Aviation Administration in May 2021, prohibiting the expansion of flag carrier flights into the United States.

An improved rating could still be months away, and issues with airspace ‘won’t help the process,’ IATA said in the letter, which was first reported by the business columnist. Dario Celis. The organization declined to comment further.

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