EconomyFinancialGiven the problems in the airspace, is it necessary...

Given the problems in the airspace, is it necessary to back down?

The announcement of the construction of a new airport at the Santa Lucía military base was accompanied by another perhaps less well-known change, but just as important: the reconfiguration of Mexican airspace. With the implementation of performance-based navigation procedures (or PBN, for its acronym in English), the government sought the coexistence of the new Felipe Ángeles International Airport (AIFA) with Mexico City (AICM) and Toluca ( TIA); however, some recent incidents call this decision into question.

PBN navigation is also known for being more precise through the use of satellite procedures, with which the authorities sought to increase the safety of flights, in addition to reducing fuel consumption and thus mitigating their environmental impact.

However, there were recently two calls for attention as part of the new airspace, implemented since 2020: a warning from the International Federation of Air Line Pilots Associations (IFALPA) about the risk of the entry of operations AIFA for operations in the Metropolitan Zone of the Valley of Mexico; and an approach incident in which two Volaris flights were involved, which is director of Navigation Services in the Mexican Air Space (Seneam).

Despite the fact that 800 million pesos were allocated in the Federation’s Expenditure Budget for the implementation of the PBN in the metropolitan system of three airports, there are doubts that were not fully resolved, considers Pablo Casas Lías, director of the National Research Institute Aeronautical Law (INIJA)

“The redesign studies in the case of NavBlue were never fully and officially presented,” said the specialist, referring to the Airbus subsidiary company, in charge of analyzing the new airspace. “They intend to make a new redesign that will integrate two more airports, but we see that not even the AICM can handle the movement of arrival and departure routes without actually having operations in the AIFA or in Toluca.”

In the statement issued last week, IFALPA warned that the problem was the lack of training to operate under the new airspace. For Alfredo Covarrubias, general secretary of the National Union of Air Traffic Controllers (Sinacta), it is precisely in this area where there have been several gaps.

“The implementation of new procedures must be accompanied by adequate training. If, for example, you are going to handle a new program on a non-commercial computer, the person who sold it to you must give you instructions,” explains the specialist. “Imagine now an aviation program, that by modifying how the airlines are distributed in the air, the inconveniences that can be.”

However, even with proper training, specialists agree that each airport has its particularities, and it is the case of AIFA that is concerned about giving pilots little room for maneuver in case of emergency in approach operations.

“They made them as if they were a video game. They are precise, exact lines, when in real life the pilots have to make deviations. The barometric values are also different”, the secretary of Sinacta told the media yesterday.

Hence, although the implementation of the new airspace should not be completely reversed, revising it would give the airlines greater certainty of operating in the airports of the Metropolitan Zone of the Valley of Mexico.

“When KLM, Lufthansa, Iberia or Emirates come, they will know that they will be able to fly in Mexican airspace, to the AICM or another airport, because everything will be properly integrated by PBN navigation, which has become an international standard” , concludes Casas Lias.

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