May Jurisdictional Update – Mexico
Growing Pains With the New Mexico City Airport
Andrés Remis and Juan Carlos Machorro, of Santamarina y Steta comment on the issues surrounding the newly opened airport in Mexico City:
Andres: Mexico City opened a second international airport north of the city. This opening has resulted in several safety incidents, including ground proximity systems alerts with aircraft. This means aircraft were in danger of flying into the ground. Earlier this month the International Federation of Airline Pilots Association issued a safety bulletin saying that air traffic controllers appeared to have had little training and support in how to operate the new Mexico City airspace air traffic, resulting from two airports operating simultaneously in the Mexico City air space.
The association stated they are aware of several incidents. These involve aircraft flying too close to each other, others with low fuel due to unplanned delays and diversions, and also the significant ground control systems alerts. The association urged carriers to consider carrying additional fuel in case they must wait enter into holding patterns or are diverted to other airports. They warned pilots to exercise extreme situational awareness. The configuration of the new airport has presented problems, given that Mexico City is surrounded by mountains and is at a +7000-foot ft. altitude.
It’s quite difficult to operate two airports at the same time. An incident early this month in the original old Mexico City airport involved air traffic controllers clearing to land an aircraft landing while another aircraft was still on the runway lined up waiting for takeoff.
We’re dealing with a challenging situation with the two airports coping with situational awareness conflicts. The government will be gathering with a number of airlines and industry players to gain some resolution and limit the operations of the first airport, encouraging airlines to use the new airport more.