Monday, 11 January 2016

Current regulations leave RI airspace unprotected - TNI AU Spokesperson

The Indonesian Air Force has argued that the government should pass new regulations to protect the nation’s skies, claiming that foreign planes often entered Indonesian airspace without permission.

“Their is an idea that Indonesia’s airspace is open and not exclusive at all, as many non-scheduled foreign aircraft enter our airspace freely,” Air Force spokesperson Rear Marshal Dwi Badarmanto said in Jakarta recently.

He acknowledged that Law No. 1/2009 on aviation did stipulate punishment for those who enter Indonesia’s airspace without permission, however, he added that the regulation did not specify the type of criminal actions that would qualify as violations of the law.

“Any violation of our airspace is handled only as an entry-permit violation, not as a violation of a country’s sovereignty,” he said, adding that Indonesia should implement regulations on airspace security that protected the nation’s airspace and stipulated legal consequences for violators.

Dwi also suggested that the Air Force be involved in investigations into airspace violations.

“The Air Force has a role to protect the nation’s airspace, intercept illegal airplanes, and it has enough knowledge about these matters [to carry out these duties],” Dwi said.

Dwi said that the Air Force had taken action to protect the nation’s airspace in the past, such as forcing planes flying in Indonesian airspace to land. However, he said that those actions seemed futile if their was no subsequent legal process.

He said that the pilots of planes that were forced to land had only been asked to pay a Rp 60 million (US$4,336) fine, the same price as an airport landing fee.

“The amount is too small and is not proportional with the effort we took. There should be legal punishment so violations will not happen again,” Dwi said.

According to him, a legal process for violators would not only have a deterrent effect but would also guarantee the sovereignty of Indonesian’s airspace.

Based on the 1944 Chicago convention and Law No. 1/2009 on aviation, Indonesia has sovereignty and the rights to exclusive use of its airspace, meaning that Indonesia has the right to use its airspace for defense and security activities in the national interest. This includes protecting Indonesia from air strikes and violations of its airspace.

There has been many reports of the Air Force confronting foreign planes that did not have permission to fly in Indonesian skies. In most cases, the Air Force has requested that the pilots of foreign planes leave Indonesian airspace or land.

On Nov. 10, for instance, the Air Force intercepted a civilian plane being flown by a US navy reserve pilot, Col. James Patrick Murphy, and forced it to land at the Juwata airbase in Tarakan, North Kalimantan.

On the same day, the Air Force in Makassar, South Sulawesi, detained a Malaysian airplane and its five crew members as the plane did not have clearance to enter Makassar.

The Malaysian airplane was planning to fly to Bali and then continue on to Australia.

In November 2014, two Sukhoi jet fighters forced down an United Arab Emirates Gulfstream IV Jet in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara, after the jet entered Indonesia using fake flight clearance papers.

In March 2011, a commercial airplane owned by Pakistan International Airlines entered Indonesia without proper permission. The plane, which was transporting 49 military personnel, was forced to land in Makassar. (The Jakarta Post)

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