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Near Crash Between Two Volaris Planes Marks the 17th Close Calls at CDMX Airport This Year

Turbulence is being reported at Mexico City’s Benito Juarez International Airport, one of the largest transportation hubs in the Americas, where a close call between two Volaris planes this past Saturday punctuated the situation with urgent exclamation points. On the evening of May 7, a landing Volaris plane was erroneously given clearance by air traffic controllers to land at the airport on the same runway where another one of the airline’s flights was preparing for takeoff.

Otro error ‼️En el video se observa a un avión de Volaris en la pista del AICM, esperando a despegar; mientras otro avión de la misma aerolínea está a punto de aterrizar, pero al ver el tráfico el piloto se va al aire de nuevo.

— LuisCardenasMX (@LuisCardenasMx) May 8, 2022

The pilot bringing the plane down was able to abort the landing, but the incident is just one of 17 close calls at the airport this year. In a viral cellphone video capturing the nighttime incident, staff from another plane nearby is heard gasping in suspense and saying "no mames!" The increase in such dangerous occurrences, and the scrutiny attached, has launched an investigation by transportation officials. Last Friday, the day before the latest near-miss, Víctor Hernández Sandoval, the head of Mexican Airspace Navigation Services, resigned, as reported by AP. The agency has also been accused of seriously underreporting such incidents of potentially catastrophic near misses and miscommunications. One of the hosts behind the popular Mexican news podcast Expansión Daily have gone as far as saying: "I would be scared right now if I had a flight arriving to Mexico City's airport."

The International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations has issued a safety bulletin which alleges that the air traffic controllers have not been “sufficiently trained” following a redesign of Mexico City’s airspace that was intended to make room for the new Felipe Ángeles International Airport, north of the city. According to Reuters, one solution to be put into place is to schedule over 100 flights for that new airport starting this summer, reducing the number of flights landing at Benito Juarez to lessen the old man’s burden.

That allegation is supported by the National Air Traffic Controllers Union’s secretary-general, who said in a news conference, “It is definitely the bad, poorly done redesign.”

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, meanwhile, swears he’s on it, though AP reports that he also says the situation is being “overblown” as the result of politics.

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