Photo: Kevin Woblick/Unsplash

By KELIN DILLON

Following the design of the airspace surrounding Mexico’s capital Mexico City, the National Union of Air Traffic Controllers (Sinacta) has warned the new flight paths bring an increased risk of accidents and collisions, due to the more complex maneuvers the redesign necessitates.  

General Secretary of Sinacta José Alfredo Covarrubias described the new routes as “bad,” telling El Financiero that high-risk situations involving the redesign have already arisen.

According to the official, two planes that were traveling in opposite directions at the same altitude almost collided because air traffic controllers did not have the correct coordinate information to give directions to pilots.

The aircrafts reportedly had to make an evasive maneuver to avoid crashing into each other based on an alert from the aircrafts’ built-in warning system.

“The redesign of the airspace can heighten risk,” said Covarrubias. “But the controller’s role is to ensure that accidents do not happen. He has to be vigilant. The job demands greater attention on the radar to avoid accidents, but there have already been reports that a couple of planes had to make an evasive maneuver.”

The air traffic simulator verifications that were necessary to safely redesign the airspace were negligently never carried out due to the simulator being broken, said the Sinacta official.

The union reportedly approached Mexico’s aeronautical authorities about potential safety issues surrounding the redesign, but never received a response.

Covarrubias also mentioned that the Air Navigation Services in the Mexican Air Space (Seneam) could hide reports of possible accidents, threatening the safety for all aircrafts and exacerbating the difficulties of air traffic control’s job.

The Secretariat of Communications and Transportation (SCT) said “there is no official report in relation to the alleged incident presented to Seneam or to the Federal Civil Aviation Agency (AFAC) by pilots or any company” and assured there being no reports of any “serious” incident related to Mexico City’s airspace redesign.

However, both Sinacta and airline pilots flying into Mexico City have reported deficiencies and complications in approaches to the capital’s airport following the airspace redesign.

…April 22, 2021

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