Two Volaris Planes Nearly Collide At Mexico City Airport

Two Volaris Planes Nearly Collide At Mexico City Airport

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There was a pretty terrifying incident at Mexico City Benito Juarez International Airport (MEX) on Saturday…

Two Volaris jets have runway incident at MEX

Two Volaris Airbus A320s nearly collided on runway 5L at Mexico City Airport on Saturday:

  • A Volaris Airbus A320 operating flight Y4-799 from Mazatlan was on final approach to runway 5L, and was cleared to land
  • A Volaris Costa Rica Airbus A320 operating flight Q6-4069 to Guatemala City was cleared to line up on runway 5L, in preparation for takeoff

The planes came within seconds of colliding, and this was only avoided thanks to another crew radioing a warning about the conflict. The Volaris Airbus A320 ended up initiating a go around, but must have been within 100 feet or so of the jet on the runway.

Below you can see video footage of this very close call.

The Volaris jet on the runway ended up departing a few minutes later, while the Volaris jet that initiated the go around successfully landed with the next attempt.

Suffice it to say that incidents like this are extremely rare. While go arounds happen all the time (including due to traffic on the runway), it’s typically not this last second due to not realizing there’s a plane on the runway.

The worst part? According to The Aviation Herald, Mexico’s Ministry of Traffic claimed not to have a report about the incident. That doesn’t exactly paint a picture of a great safety culture, if an incident this serious isn’t reported to authorities and investigated.

General Mexico City airspace concerns

The timing of this latest incident is interesting, because around the same time there have been general concerns raised about safety in Mexico City’s airspace.

In March we saw the opening of the new Felipe Angeles International Airport (NLU). This is a new airport to the north of Mexico City, which is a converted former military air base. The issue? Air traffic controllers have allegedly been insufficiently trained to operate the newly configured airspace, leading to an increase in incidents. It’s also claimed that air traffic controllers aren’t using standard phraseology in their communications with flight crews.

Pilots and airlines have written letters to the Mexican Airspace Navigation Services to express concerns over the increasing number of close calls in the airspace.

According to the letter:

“As you know, these alarms, without the quick action of the flight crew, can lead to a scenario of controlled flight into terrain, CFIT, considered by the industry to be one of the highest risk indicators in operational safety, and with the highest accident rate, as well as fatalities.”

“It would appear that with the opening of this newly converted airport, (air traffic control) has apparently received little training and support as to how to operate this new configuration in the airspace.”

In 2021, the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) downgraded Mexico’s aviation safety rating, from a Category 1 to a Category 2.

A Category 2 rating means that the country’s laws and regulations lack the necessary requirements to oversee the country’s air carriers in accordance with minimal international safety standards, or that the civil aviation authority is lacking in one or more areas, such as technical expertise, trained personnel, record keeping, inspection procedures, or resolution of safety concerns.

So while that’s not specific to the situation in Mexico City, it does seem like some oversight is lacking in Mexico’s busiest airspace.

Bottom line

On Saturday, two Volaris Airbus A320s nearly collided on a runway at Mexico City Airport. One aircraft was cleared to line up on the runway, while the other aircraft was cleared to land. It was only at the very last second that a go around was performed thanks to another pilot spotting the incident and calling for a go around.

All of this comes at the same time that a variety of airlines have raised safety concerns about Mexico City airspace, as there have been an increasing number of incidents.

What do you make of this Volaris incident at Mexico City Airport?

Conversations (4)
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  1. J. Smie Guest

    Sadly, this scenario has played out before but with fatal consequences.
    In 1991 a Skywest commuter plane was cleared to taxi into position and hold on runway 24L at LAX. It was after dark and this was before major airports had ground radar systems to monitor aircraft positions on the airfield. At the same time a USAir 737 was on final approach to the same runway. The controller was distracted and forgot the Skywest...

    Sadly, this scenario has played out before but with fatal consequences.
    In 1991 a Skywest commuter plane was cleared to taxi into position and hold on runway 24L at LAX. It was after dark and this was before major airports had ground radar systems to monitor aircraft positions on the airfield. At the same time a USAir 737 was on final approach to the same runway. The controller was distracted and forgot the Skywest playing sitting on the runway waiting to take off and gave USAir clearance to land.
    USAir followed directions and landed...unfortunately right on top of the Skywest airplane, resulting in complete destruction of the Skywest airplane with total loss of life. The USAir 737 was also destroyed but some of the passengers survived.

  2. Sergio Díaz Guest

    As a Mexican I have to say that the current government is a disaster, among other bad things they put inexperienced people in charge of air operations. The inept person who was in the control tower that day gave the order to the plane to land without paying attention to what he was doing, it is even rumored that he was distracted looking at his cell phone, which is forbidden for control tower employees. By...

    As a Mexican I have to say that the current government is a disaster, among other bad things they put inexperienced people in charge of air operations. The inept person who was in the control tower that day gave the order to the plane to land without paying attention to what he was doing, it is even rumored that he was distracted looking at his cell phone, which is forbidden for control tower employees. By pure miracle the two planes did not collide, Volaris management is furious and demanded the government to fix the problem as soon as possible. Let's hope they do something, because this is a time bomb.

  3. Patrick Guest

    This story is missing a few critical details:

    - Mexican President Lopez Obrador rushed to open a new airport as a replacement for the current airport.

    - There have been an alarming number of incidents involving either near collisions on runways, planes circling until fuel is dangerously low or close calls with controlled flight into to terrain as pilots are asked to go into holding positions prior to landing.

    - Air traffic controllers...

    This story is missing a few critical details:

    - Mexican President Lopez Obrador rushed to open a new airport as a replacement for the current airport.

    - There have been an alarming number of incidents involving either near collisions on runways, planes circling until fuel is dangerously low or close calls with controlled flight into to terrain as pilots are asked to go into holding positions prior to landing.

    - Air traffic controllers have been complaining for some time that they haven't had sufficient training to adjust to the newly configured airspace with two airports instead of just one.

    - Most importantly, Victor Manuel Hernandez, director of the Mexican Navigation in Airspace Service (SENEAM) resigned last week after they initially denied complaints about worsening safety. This seems to suggest that the dangers are real, although two Mexico City newspapers have suggested that the order to ignore pilots and air traffic controllers came from the presidency. Both papers drew parallels to the recent collapse of a segment of the newly inaugurated Metro Line 12.

    This appears related to the president's promise to deliver infrastructure within the time frame of a six year presidency.

    I, too, wish that the proposed airport had been built. While it had the bloat typical of large scale federal projects, there is no real pathe for the newly inaugurated airport to relieve congestion as it adds two hours of road travel to every journey.

  4. Mike Guest

    It's really sad as Mexico City is a fantastic place to visit with amazing food and people.

    They also were going to get an amazing new airport but they lost that too (the military airfield one was not the original plan and is a lot worse for many reasons)

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Patrick Guest

This story is missing a few critical details: - Mexican President Lopez Obrador rushed to open a new airport as a replacement for the current airport. - There have been an alarming number of incidents involving either near collisions on runways, planes circling until fuel is dangerously low or close calls with controlled flight into to terrain as pilots are asked to go into holding positions prior to landing. - Air traffic controllers have been complaining for some time that they haven't had sufficient training to adjust to the newly configured airspace with two airports instead of just one. - Most importantly, Victor Manuel Hernandez, director of the Mexican Navigation in Airspace Service (SENEAM) resigned last week after they initially denied complaints about worsening safety. This seems to suggest that the dangers are real, although two Mexico City newspapers have suggested that the order to ignore pilots and air traffic controllers came from the presidency. Both papers drew parallels to the recent collapse of a segment of the newly inaugurated Metro Line 12. This appears related to the president's promise to deliver infrastructure within the time frame of a six year presidency. I, too, wish that the proposed airport had been built. While it had the bloat typical of large scale federal projects, there is no real pathe for the newly inaugurated airport to relieve congestion as it adds two hours of road travel to every journey.

2
Mike Guest

It's really sad as Mexico City is a fantastic place to visit with amazing food and people. They also were going to get an amazing new airport but they lost that too (the military airfield one was not the original plan and is a lot worse for many reasons)

2
Sergio Díaz Guest

As a Mexican I have to say that the current government is a disaster, among other bad things they put inexperienced people in charge of air operations. The inept person who was in the control tower that day gave the order to the plane to land without paying attention to what he was doing, it is even rumored that he was distracted looking at his cell phone, which is forbidden for control tower employees. By pure miracle the two planes did not collide, Volaris management is furious and demanded the government to fix the problem as soon as possible. Let's hope they do something, because this is a time bomb.

1
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