Air Surveillance Service Made More Official Transport Flights Than Patrols

The Comptroller's office says the service has deficiencies in relation to the absence of procedures "for the use of police aircraft and helicopters" by public servants


The Servicio de Vigilancia Aérea (SVA)- Air Surveillance Service – of the Ministry of Public Security made – over two years – more flights of official transport, which is qualified as an exception, than police patrols, according to a study conducted by the Comptroller General of the Republic (Contraloría General de la República or CGR).

The operates out of the Juan Santamaria (San Jose) international airport

The CGR’s report indicated that in 2015 the SVA made a total of 307 “official transport” flights and 56 patrol flights; in 2016 of the total 305 flights, 143 were police patrols; and in 2017 (to October 31), the SVA patrol flights exceeded official transport, 209 to 187, respectively.

According to the CGR, the greater use of SVA aircraft for official transport denotes deficiencies in the operational planning of the Servicio de Vigilancia Aérea, where “…the objectives, actions, goals and specific indicators are not defined to the services borrowed.”

Extract of the  Comptroller’s report

Another of the deficiencies pointed by the CFR is in the SVA’s computer system, where the flight plans that are carried out are recorded. According to the Comptroller, it presents weaknesses from the point of view of data security, the system does not have a module where you can see the different levels of access to information by the users.

“No actions have been taken to limit privileges, nor is information registered in a logbook regarding the modifications made to the data. In addition, the system indicated has weaknesses in the operational field, since there are no operating manuals, maintenance procedures, backup or recovery in case of interruptions so that all these functions fall on the official who developed the system,” the Comptroller said.

In addition, the Air Surveillance has deficiencies in relation to the absence of procedures and criteria to assess and qualify the requests “for the use of police aircraft and helicopters by public servants in the exercise of their functions; with the purpose of determining if they fulfill the character of exception that the Regulation indicates”.

In effect, what the Comptroller is alluding to is that any official can request the use of an SVA aircraft with minimal or no controls.

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The mission statement on the SVA web page reads, “Our mission is to provide air support in security actions carried out by the police, in humanitarian missions, transfers of officials, grant security and surveillance in the airports of the country to protect national and foreign citizens.”

The Air Surveillance Service operates out of the Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO) adjacent to Santamaría terminals, also known as “base 2”.