Just days after a similar incident, pilots of a plane that was about to touch down at the Mexico City International Airport (AICM) were forced to abort their landing because the runway was already occupied.
The landing of an Aeroméxico flight from Bogotá, Colombia, was aborted at the last minute Wednesday night because a United Airlines plane that flew into the Mexican capital from Los Angeles was still on the runway.
The Aeroméxico pilots landed the plane some 20 minutes later, El País reported. The newspaper said that two of its journalists were on the flight and they could see airport hangars and passenger boarding bridges when the plane suddenly began to regain altitude.
It described the abrupt ascent as like riding on an upward section of a roller coaster at full speed.
The last-minute aborted landing came after pilots of a Volaris plane narrowly averted a disaster at the AICM Saturday after they were cleared to land on a runway where another aircraft of the same airline was waiting to take off. It appears air traffic controllers made a similar blunder on Wednesday.
According to air traffic controllers and aviation experts cited by the newspaper Reforma, the number of aborted landings, or go-arounds, has doubled at the AICM this year to six per 1,000 operations due to the redesign of air space to allow that airport and the new Felipe Ángeles International Airport to operate simultaneously.
Most are not executed just before a plane is about to touch down, as occurred in the two recent incidents.
The close calls came after the International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations said it appeared that air traffic controllers at the AICM have received little training and support as to how to direct flights operating in the new airspace configuration.
Deputy Transport Minister Rogelio Jiménez Pons said Sunday that last Saturday’s incident was not related to the redesign of airspace in the greater Mexico City area. However, the director of Navigation Services for Mexican Airspace, a government agency, was dismissed in the wake of the anxiety-inducing aborted landing.
Jiménez announced Monday that operations at the overburdened AICM would be reduced over the next 12 months to avoid more dangerous incidents. He said that 25% of flights will be transferred to the Felipe Ángeles International Airport (AIFA), which opened in late March, and the Toluca International Airport.
The government said Tuesday that the number of commercial flights at the AIFA will increase to over 100 from a current level of about 12. Cargo and charter aircraft will also be shifted to the army-built new airport, located about 50 kilometers north of downtown Mexico City in México state.