Chamber of Deputies Grants SEDENA Control of Mexican Airspace
The Mexican Chamber of Deputies has approved a new Airspace Law, granting the Ministry of Defense (SEDENA) control and surveillance over the Mexican skies. The law was approved with 261 votes in favor, 198 against and 26 abstentions, following an initiative by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
The new law aims to solve irregularities related to false flight licenses, identity theft, aircraft without proper documentation, illegal transport of hydrocarbons, operation on clandestine runways and corrupt officials who facilitate illicit flights. According to several media outlets, a National Center for Surveillance and Protection of the Airspace will be established, with resources from the Mexican Air Force and the National Defense General Staff, to monitor flight activity and determine if flights are authorized.
The Surveillance and Protection System of the Mexican Airspace is also created to coordinate agencies and entities to inhibit and counteract illegal air operations that pose a threat to national security. This public body will be responsible for integrating and coordinating actions aimed at preserving the safety and sovereignty of the airspace.
Deputies Mirza Flores Gómez (Movimiento Ciudadano) and Francisco Javier Huacus Esquivel (PRD) expressed concern about the fast pace at which law was issued and accused the government of militarizing the national airspace. However, the law outlines the functions of the Ministry of Infrastructure, Communications and Transport (SICT) and SEDENA, which will be responsible for ensuring the legal use of airspace. The law also establishes an interception procedure as a mechanism to direct a state aircraft to another for identification, monitoring and further instructions.
The National Center for Surveillance and Protection of Airspace will monitor flight maneuvers, including circumstances when the transponder code was not activated or turned off during flight. It will also monitor route changes without explicit reason and failure to communicate with air traffic control services, reports El Economista. The center will consider a flight unauthorized if the aircraft does not have an authorized flight plan or if it is not approved by the Navigation Services in the Mexican Air Space (SENEAM).
The public body will be conformed by SEDENA, the Mexican Air Force, the Navy, the National Guard and the National Intelligence Center. It will also be responsible for issuing policies for coordination and information exchange between agencies and entities. The new law aims to improve the security and sovereignty of the Mexican airspace, while combating illegal air operations that pose a threat to national security.