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New aviation studies identify limitations at Santa Lucía airport

Two common aircraft won't be able to use the facility because the runways won't be long enough

Two new aviation reports have identified challenges and limitations to the operation of the Santa Lucía airport, currently under construction on an air force base north of Mexico City.

According to Navblue, a Canadian subsidiary of Airbus, the simultaneous operation of the Toluca and Santa Lucía airports is possible but the use of airspace will have to be redesigned to ensure their compatibility.

Aircraft taking off and landing at the two México state airports will have to take the most precise and shortest routes possible to ensure that they don’t interfere with each other, the flight operations software company said.

International Air Transport Association chief Alexendre de Juniac said earlier this year that operating three airports within close proximity to each other in Mexico City and México state will be “complex” and “challenging.”

Meanwhile, French airport operator and consultancy firm Aéroports de Paris (ADP) – architect of the Santa Lucía master plan – said in a new report that the simultaneous operation of runways 1 and 3 — the latter won’t be built until 2052 — will not be possible.

Due to the construction of military facilities, a shared military/commercial runway at the southern end of the airport site and the construction of commercial facilities towards the north, runway 3 will have to be built parallel to runway 1 at a distance of 380 meters, ADP said.

“This location will not allow independent operations,” the report said, explaining that once the two runways are in use, the former will only be used for landings and the latter for take-offs.

ADP also said that due to the proposed length of the runways – 4,300 meters – planes will be required to carry lighter payloads than those with which they take off at the existing Mexico City airport. Two common commercial aircrafts – the Boeing 777 and 747-400 – won’t be able to use the new airport, the report said.

Addressing the simultaneous runway use issue, the Secretariat of National Defense (Sedena), which is overseeing construction of the airport, highlighted in a statement Tuesday that runways 1 and 2 will be able to operate concurrently.

“Runways 1 and 2 will be built in the first stage, they will operate independently and will allow simultaneous operations . . .” Sedena spokesman Col. Francisco Enríquez told the newspaper El Financiero.

Once runway 3 is built, runway 2 will continue to operate, he stressed.

“[Runways] 1 and 3 will be complementary but they will supplement runway 2, the [commercial aircraft] flow will be divided between the three runways,” Enríquez said.

Sedena said that even without the simultaneous operation of runways 1 and 3, the Santa Lucía airport will be capable of meeting the demands of almost 85 million passengers per year from 2052.

Source: Milenio (sp), El Financiero (sp), A21 (sp) 

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