The General Director of Space Navigation Services (SENEAM) Víctor Manuel Hernández announced on May 6 that as of today, May 9, he is leaving his position given recent aerial incidents. A day after his announcement, Mexico City International Airport (AICM) saw a near-collision between two Volaris aircraft. Meanwhile, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador assured that the Ministry of the Interior (SEGOB) will call a meeting to analyze the problems affecting Mexico’s airspace.
Hernández’s resignation comes after the International Federation of Airline Pilots (IFALPA) warned of various incidents pertaining arrivals at AICM. “In the last month, IFALPA has been made aware of several incidents involving aircraft arriving at [AICM] with low fuel states due to unplanned holding, diversions for too excessive delays and significant GPWS [Ground Proximity Warning System] alerts where one crew almost had a Controlled Flight into Terrain (CFIT),” said IFALPA in an official statement. In addition, the federation warned that several problems were dragging on. These problems involved issues with workers, complaints from neighbors due to the redesign of the airspace and the lack of training for runway coordinators.
On Saturday, AICM reported an incident after a pilot received authorization to land on a runway that was occupied by another aircraft that was about to take off. Videos of the incident went viral on social media. After the incident, SICT reported that the Federal Agency of Civil Aviation (AFAC) and SENEAM authorities investigated the report following national and international aeronautical regulations.
The Deputy Minister of Transportation Rogelio Jiménez Pons accepted the resignation of Hernández to streamline the investigation into the Saturday incident. Authorities also announced the installation of a permanent table with international and national aeronautical actors with whom the “total commitment with the aeronautical sector to strengthen and continuously improve security in the Airspace of the Valley of Mexico is formalized,” reads an official press release.
President López Obrador said during the morning press conference that he is now asking airlines such as Aeroméxico, Viva Aerobus and Volaris to increase their number of flights to the Felipe Angeles International Airport (AIFA) starting in August. He clarified that airlines would not be forced to move to the AIFA but agreements, such as the one with Aeroméxico, would be sought to fill the airport’s infrastructure and minimize incidents at the AICM. “There is resistance to the transfer to the Felipe Ángeles Airport, but it is already being achieved. Now Aeroméxico will have more flights. The president of the board of Aeroméxico came to tell me that starting in August, they will increase the number of flights and that in November and December, they will have 36 flights from Felipe Ángeles Airport. It is our plan to do the same with Volaris and Viva Aerobus, but all through dialogue.”
Although AICM is oversaturated, industry experts claim that the incident on Saturday could have been caused by a lack of training for air traffic controllers. However, López Obrador said that “there is no danger, we are responsible and all the personnel who work in aviation are good professional people and do not want misfortune to happen.”