Latin Airports Plagued with Problems
Brazilian officials have yet to agree on exactly what caused a TAM airliner to skid off the rain-slicked runway at Congonhas on July 17, killing all 187 aboard and 12 on the ground. Critics claim the runway is too short and lacks grooves to prevent skidding during wet weather.
Mountains increase the risks at airports in Tegucigalpa, Honduras and Quito, Ecuador.
Birds pose problems at airports in Panama City; Guayaquil, Ecuador; and Barranquilla, Colombia. A single bird sucked into an engine can down a plane.
Six hundred vultures have closed Barranquilla’s airport for two hours daily since June 19, Illegal dumping by squatters around the airport attracts the birds.
Peter Cerda, a Miami-based specialist in air safety said, ”We don’t have any airport in the region that we consider to be unsafe, including Congonhas,”
Mexico City already has modernized approach and departure procedures, allowing airliners to shave a few minutes off flights, and it is getting a new terminal later this year that will increase gates from 33 to 59. But air traffic there will remain congested because the airport’s two runways are too close together to permit simultaneous use.
A similar plan in Brazil has yet to get under way.