Chile: Broken Santiago airstrip slows traffic
Faulty runway renovation caused delays last Thursday at Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport, Santiago.
The Directorate of Civil Aviation (DGAC) explained that runway employees voiced concern a day earlier, having come across fractures in the pavement during routine repairs. They were in the process of fixing the area, although the threat did not seem imminent. LAN Chile flight 374 first encountered problems turning onto the main runway, as loose asphalt was swept into its path. The plane was moving at approximately 20 kilometers per hour when it encountered the broken surface. The pilot chose to abort take-off and evacuated the plane. Numerous other planes were forced to suspend flight, unable to cross the crumbling pavement. The Public Works Minister (MOP) is now investigating the grounds and materials to determine the cause of the problem. In the meantime, air traffic has been re-directed to the exterior portion of the turning strip. The DGAC insists that the main runway, which was repaired in January of 2006, is fully functional and presents no similar threat. Eduardo Bitran, minister of the MOP, admitted that the repairs had been badly done under the command of Luis Gonzales, Metropolitan Director of Aviation. Gonzales was dismissed from his position on Saturday. The Santiago Times