Jakarta. The Indonesian government has set up a joint team to handle aircraft grounded for airspace violations. Officials from related agencies and ministries signed the memorandum of understanding in Jakarta on Monday during a gathering led by Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Mahfud M.D.
Mahfud said the MoU was needed to ensure smooth coordination among agencies after an aircraft was forced to land for entering the Indonesian airspace without permission.
There have been several cases of airspace violations in the past and it took a long time for the ground officials to settle the issue, he said.
"On Jan. 14, 2019, an Ethiopian Airlines cargo plane was forced to land by the Indonesian Air Force for entering our airspace without clearance from authorities," Mahfud said after the signing ceremony at Aryaduta Hotel in Central Jakarta.
Indonesian Air Force jetfighters instructed the Ethiopian cargo plane with flight number ETH 3728 to land at Hang Nadim Airport on Batam island.
While the Air Force’s measure was appropriate and in accordance with the government ordinance on airspace security, problems occurred on the ground due to lack of coordination among state agencies, he said.
Mahfud said at the event of unauthorized entry of a foreign aircraft, the airspace controller will first order it to leave the Indonesian airspace immediately. Only when the call was ignored, would the Air Force planes be deployed to intercept and force it to land on the nearest airstrip.
The MoU was signed by officials from the Defense Ministry, the Foreign Affairs Ministry, the Transportation Ministry, the Justice and Human Rights Ministry, the Agriculture Ministry, the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry, the Health Ministry, the Finance Ministry, the Indonesian Military, and airport operators Angkasa Pura and AirNav Indonesia.
Mahfud said the MoU aims to harmonize standard operating procedures from different ministries and agencies in the handling of grounded aircraft.
"We hope the MoU can speed up the ground proceedings after an aircraft is forced to land," the minister said.
Vice Air Marshal Jorry Soleman Koloay, the deputy operation assistant for the Indonesian Military chief, said basic guidelines had been adopted for the ground handling of airspace violation.
"The guidelines cut the settlement process that usually takes one week to only three days," he said.
Jorry said interception by the Air Force jets is led by the airbase commander in coordination with airport operators.
"The military-civil coordination will communicate with the air traffic controller and report to the airbase commander about the interception," he said.
All the related ministries and agencies will then follow with the establishment of a joint investigation team led by an Air Force officer.
According to the guidelines, the Air Force will inspect the aircraft and flight documents. Health Ministry officials are needed to check if any passenger needs quarantine for possible contagious disease.
"If there is no ‘risk factor’, the Air Force will issue a quarantine-free declaration then take them to the interrogation room," Jorry said.
The joint investigation team will work to check any airspace infringement or other crimes.
"There will be a further investigation by civilian investigators and legal proceedings when a crime is committed," he said.
In the case of airspace violation, the grounded plane will be allowed to continue flying after obtaining a clearance, which can be requested by its government representative in Indonesia, and paying a fine, he said.
According to the government ordinance, the fine against airspace violation is set at Rp 5 billion ($360,000).