On March 1st, 2023, the decree issuing the Mexican Airspace Protection Law (hereinafter, the “Law”) was published in the Official Gazette of the Federation.
The aforementioned Law entered into force on March 2nd of this year, finding its legal ground in Articles 27, 48 and 73 of the Political Constitution of the United Mexican States, which states that the space situated over the national territory will rely upon the Federal Government directly.
Now, according to the decree, this Law will seek to establish and regulate the actions, measures, and procedures to preserve the sovereignty, independence and security of the Mexican Airspace, while simultaneously granting the Ministry of National Defence control (which it did not have previously) to coordinate the involvement of various authorities such as the National Guard, SENEAM, SEMAR, SEGOB, SICT, among others.
To this end, it will establish a system for the protection and surveillance of the Air Space in national territory, which previously existed but as a coordination of various agencies; as well as the National Centre which will have the following responsibilities: i) issue communication policies between authorities; ii) monitor the Mexican Air Space controlling air operations within restricted areas; iii) execute and coordinate the aerial interception of aircraft in the Mexican Air Space; and iv) carry out warning actions, aerial interception, identification, tracking of traces of interest and assistance to aircraft in emergency.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, several specialists in the matter argue that the present Law is unnecessary since the Constitution already granted the military sector the powers to intervene in the Airspace for national security purposes, in addition to the fact that all information on civil airspace was entered through SENEAM and the Defence system.
This means that both the Air Force and the Army have all the information of all the movement within the airspace and have a way to discriminate any foreign aircraft, so if unknown or illegal aircraft are not pursued, it is because there is no political determination or budget to do so. In other words, the air force lacks aircraft that can pursue illegal aircraft.
Finally, those who could confront this Law would be the air traffic controllers, since it is the intention to entail them in crimes or irregularities, in the deterioration of a function that corresponds only to the military. Therefore, we will have to await to find out how this Law is materially executed and if it will indeed be beneficial or negative for the Mexican aeronautical sector.