Approval and supervision by the HCAA of the Greek border surveillance process by FRONTEX in cooperation with other competent bodies - July 2022

On July 8, 2022, an event was held at Timbaki airport in Crete in view of the start of operational flights of the Heron 1 Drone that has been provided by the Border and Coast Guard Organization (FRONTEX) to the Hellenic Coast Guard.

The Drone is going to operate for the surveillance of the Greek borders and also to contribute to the suppression of criminal activities and the protection of the marine environment.

Given that the Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority (HCAA) is responsible for approving the operational activity of the drone and within the framework of the prescribed procedure, during the last semester all the involved bodies were invited to consultations by the HCAA in order to consider all relevant parameters to achieve the maximum degree of flight safety. It should also be noted that HCAA, following a relevant agreement, worked closely with representatives of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) for this specific activity.

HCAA was represented at the event by the Governor, Dr. Christos Tsitouras, accompanied by the General Director of Aviation Activities Mr. Konstantinos Karageorgis and the Head of the General Aviation & Drones Section, Mr. Konstantinos Diamantakos.

On behalf of Frontex, the (deputy) Executive Director Ms. Aija Kalnaja was present, while on behalf of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Insular Policy, the Secretary General of the Aegean and Insular Policy, Manolis Koutoulakis, Chief of Hellenic Coast Guard, Vice Admiral H.C.G. Georgios Alexandrakis, the Head of the Integrated Maritime Surveillance Service Captain H.C.G. Georgios Christianos, the Central Harbor Master of Heraklion Vice Captain H.C.G. Efthymios Doubis, the Organization and Development Department of the Integrated Maritime Surveillance Service Admiral H.C.G Dionysis Christofilis, the Director of the Minister's Office Vice Admiral H.C.G (a.a.) Vidalis Antonios, as well as Ms. Eleana Theona, representative of the Ministry of Immigration.

For his part, the HCAA Governor, as he has stated, any relevant action that contributes to the strengthening of safety issues and the protection of the marine environment, but mainly issues of cutting-edge technology, are an absolute priority for the newly established Authority, which has all kinds of resources to promote and establish them.

For her part, the Executive Director of FRONTEX (ad interim) Aija Kalnaja stated the following:

"This is an important moment for FRONTEX and the Greek side. Together we will operate a drone in the eastern Mediterranean, based in Crete. The aircraft is capable of operating around the clock, has the ability to transmit information and give a real-time picture to the FRONTEX operational centers and our partners, allowing immediate assessment and reaction to various incidents - conditions. when deemed necessary.

The aircraft's mission for the coming months is to support the Greek authorities through border control and the detection and prevention of cross-border crime. It will contribute to efforts to rescue people, who are often victims of traffickers. A similar aircraft operating in Malta has helped save lives at sea.

This instrument serves the E.U. FRONTEX missions contribute to the protection and safety of all Europeans, helping the authorities to fight cross-border crime and deal with hybrid threats, which originate from areas outside the EU."