Friday, February 03, 2012

Bogota's airport faulty practices 'endangers travelers'

Bogota's El Dorado airport is having technical issues that are endangering passengers and crews, radio station Caracol reported Friday.

Caracol's report is based on the airport controller's daily activities from 7PM on Tuesday February 31st to 1PM on Thursday February 2nd.

During that two day period the El Dorado air control tower lost the radio frequencies that connect it to airplanes no less than ten times. Another frightening occurrence called duplicity, when the tower's computer panel shows two planes where there is only one, occurred seven times.

On the first of February at 7PM, an Avianca flight was duplicated on the computer panel, the incident forced the pilot to continue the flight without aid from the control tower.

Just half an hour later the control tower lost its radio frequency for over three minutes. The malfunction lead two flights to pass each other with only a four-mile distance between them.

Besides these dangerous flying conditions there are staffing issues as well. On Wednesday, one of the fifteen air traffic controllers on duty fell sick and left only five minutes into the shift leaving the control tower short-staffed for the rest of the day.

Another major issue is the waiting time that flights face when landing in Bogota. An unnamed source told Caracol that between the hours of 12 noon and 2PM on Wednesday, there were 30 flights circling the city, waiting to land. These delays impact not only the passengers but the airlines who have to pay for the cost of fuel to keep these planes waiting or to send them to airports in other Colombian cities.

The report concludes with a demand for an explanation from Colombia's department of Civil Aeronautics about these problems and why they continue to allow conditions that threaten the lives of users of air transport, businesses, and citizens who may suffer the consequences of a plane crash.

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