Only 46 of the 243 public airports in Colombia work with air traffic controllers, according to El Tiempo newspaper.
The standard of operations and the risks involved were brought to light following an accident last month in San Gil where a college student died after being hit by a plane taking off that was carrying the governor of Santander.
The event generated a controversy between the Civil Aeronautics and the Mayor of San Gil. The Civil Aeronautics insists that, by law, municipalities are responsible for the management and control of the slopes, the Mayor in turn claims that municipalities are never notified of the scheduled landing hours and types of aircraft.
The Director of Civil Aviation, Gustavo Alberto Lenis, revealed that aircraft do fly without communication although he noted that the sharing of flight plans is often essential for security.
“The recent tragedy in San Gil is a voice of warning to the aerodrome operators for the urgent obligation to comply with the standards of the aviation regulations of Colombian municipal authorities,” he told El Tiempo.
“Of the 247 public airports owned by the Civil Aviation Authority and local authorities, 201 are not controlled. It is therefore essential that pilots lookout for other traffic and exchange information. This is of great importance, since they could be flying aircraft without communication. For safety, it is necessary for all aircraft to be equipped with radio transmitters and listen on the frequency,” Lenis said.
Despite the recent accident the Director of Civil Aviation maintains that air operation is very safe. “The year 2013 was the best in terms of security in the country. There were 12 minor aircraft accidents which represents a decline of 14.28 percent from the previous year (14), so that the significant downward trend in accidents in the last decade remains in tact.”