The Estonian PBGB flight crew contributes to the surveillance of the European Union’s external borders in Spain

The Beechcraft King Air 350ER with the crew of the Police and Border Guard Board’s PPA aircraft is on a joint operation on the southern coast of Spain from today to 21 May. The PBGB flight force is participating in the Frontex short-term mission for the ninth time.

According to Rain Jõeveer, the head of the PBGB airfield, participation in joint operations is extremely important to ensure security in the wider European Union. “Surveillance of the European Union’s external borders is helping to create security throughout Europe, not just in the country where the operation is taking place. On the southern coast of Spain, the main tasks of our team are to detect illegal migration and cross-border crime during observation flights. Our contribution to joint operations is highly valued, and the team in turn gains significant work experience, ”said Jõeveer.

The air force is participating in Frontex’s joint operation “Indalo 2021” in southern Spain, where their main area of ​​operation is the maritime area between Spain and Morocco. There, Frontex supports local border and coast guards in border surveillance, crime detection, ship identification and search and rescue.

The PBGB sends a total of 13 people to Spain. Some of them fly on a PPA aircraft Beechcraft King Air 350ER and others on a passenger plane. Eleven flight crews, including flight crew and technicians, are based at Malaga airport in Spain. Two people work at the operations center in Madrid, where they are responsible for planning patrol flights and assigning tasks to the flight crew according to the needs of their Spanish colleagues. They also pass on to the operations center the information received from the flight crew about possible discoveries and the information collected during the monitoring.

The PBGB aircraft squadron has been participating in Frontex missions on a short-term basis almost every year since 2009. Missions have also taken place in Greece and Italy in the past, most recently in a joint operation in 2019 in Spain, in the same region as today. “For example, at that time, the flight crew discovered a rubber boat crossing the Mediterranean with 40 people on board. Boats carrying drugs to Europe were also discovered on several occasions. In one case it was a large amount of hashish and in another case it was cocaine. In addition, a boat passed by in the Mediterranean was discovered with a person in need. A local helicopter crew was called to the rescue, who got the distressed person into the helicopter in the winch, “the air traffic controller described the previous victories in the Mediterranean.

In Estonia, the aircraft is mainly used for monitoring flights, where one of the important tasks is to detect pollution at sea. “The plane will be abroad for a month, but we will cover the monitoring flights in Estonia with the help of helicopters, the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) drone and satellite, and Finnish colleagues. Thus, in the absence of the aircraft, we can also make all the necessary observation flights in Estonia, “said the head of the flight unit.