Response of the Colombian Air Force to the Mayor's Office of Cali that affirms that Air Base slows development

15 min read

The political and social dilemma began when the mayor of Cali in Colombia stated that the Air Base located in the area slowed the growth of the city due to the regulations that it requires on issues of building height and urban development.

Response of the Colombian Air Force to the Mayor's Office of Cali that affirms that Air Base...

The Colombian Air Force assures in the statement.

1- The Air Base of the Military Aviation School 'Marco Fidel Suárez' — EMAVI has been operating since 1933 on the outskirts of the city of Santiago de Cali, being heritage, past and present of it, part of its identity and one of its references At national and international level.

Since its inception, EMAVI has complied with the training of the country's aerospace power leaders and, in parallel, protects the highest interests of the State, which include national sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and constitutional order, ensuring from the air for the peace, tranquility and well-being of all the citizens of southwestern Colombia and the country in general.

Operations carried out since 1933 include: disaster relief, search and rescue, aeromedical evacuations, fire fighting, humanitarian aid and airlifts and, of course, military operations in defense of the Colombian people against the factors of instability and threats from GAO, GDO, drug trafficking, illicit exploitation of mining deposits and common crime, among others.

2- In 2013 and with the purpose of separating the two major missions that the EMAVI was carrying out, headed by its Director (training of leaders, military pilots and military operations), it was decided to separate them, creating Combat Air Command No. 7 — CACOM-7 to continue developing operations in southwestern Colombia, in such a way that the Military Aviation School will concentrate solely on the comprehensive training process for FAC Officers.

It is necessary to clarify that the air operations for the training of military pilots carried out by the EMAVI, as well as those carried out by the CACOM-7, did not modify the application of the regulations in relation to airports and the use of land in their vicinity, contemplated in:

• Chicago Convention of 1944, in which Colombia has been a signatory since 1947.

• ICAO Annex 14 First Edition of 1951, which regulates the design and operation of aerodromes.

• Commercial Code of 1971 Art. 1823 and 1824.

• Resolution No. 1092/2007 Colombian Aeronautical Regulations 14.

• Soil Use Guide Manual in areas surrounding airports.

• Decree 2397/2010, designation of the FAC as the aeronautical authority of State Aviation.

• Law 388/1997 — Territorial Organization Plans, Art. 10 — numeral 3, which talks about airports and regulations in their areas of influence.

Consequently, it is not true that the creation of CACOM 7 gave rise to the restrictions mentioned in the video of the Mayor's Office.

3- The Mayor's Office of Cali says that: “It is time to request permission from the FAC in Bogotá” for any work that exceeds two floors. In this regard, the Colombian Air Force does not grant construction permits or licenses. The FAC, as a State aeronautical authority and as happens in any airport in the world, is limited to carrying out technical studies to assess obstacles, to guarantee the safety of air operations and of the population that comes to inhabit the structures at height.

From 2014 to date, around 502 technical studies have been carried out to evaluate buildings at height. It is not true that it cannot be built or that the city is limited to two floors, as positive technical concepts have been issued in many projects. In 2019, the following stand out:

• LA GRAN VIA II Project — 47 meters high (14 floors).

• GRAN VIA BULEVAR Project — 47 meters high (15 floors).

• Urban Renovation Projects SIXTH AVENUE — 109 meters (approx. 36 floors).

4- The Mayor's Office emphasizes that: “No Air Command in the country remains in a capital”: The location of the Air Combat Command responds to the particular strategic needs of each region of the country. The need to preserve secrecy in the development of military operations demands that they be located in military airports; However, in cases such as Bogotá and Barranquilla, it is necessary to share the facilities with civil airports that serve capital cities, developing military air operations that safeguard the highest interests of the Colombian State and its inhabitants. The operations carried out do not modify the observance of international regulations that regulate construction at height in the vicinity of airports.

In the same way, there are, worldwide, airports and air bases located in cities of high development and high population density, they structure their growth plans without affecting the safety of air operations, nor that of their inhabitants (Example: Miami Airport INTL., Benito Juárez Airport INTL. — Mexico City, El Dorado Airport INTL. Bogotá).

Response of the Colombian Air Force to the Mayor's Office of Cali that affirms that Air Base...

5- The Mayor's Office asks: "What justifies restricting the development of Cali, if there are already buildings that exceed the limits?"

The fact that there are currently some obstacles that violate the regulations and that were built before the FAC was designated as an aeronautical authority in 2010, is not a basis to allow the proliferation of obstacles that generate risk for the air operation and the public, that inhabits structures in height that violate the allowed limits.

6- He also mentions the video: “Cali continued to grow according to its POT”.

Precisely, this is where a large part of the current problem resides, considering that the 2014 Land Management Plan did not take into account the provisions of the national and international standards, mentioned above and that regulate the use of land in the vicinity of the aerodromes.

Law 388/1997, which regulates matters related to the elaboration and adoption of Territorial Organization Plans, establishes in Article 10 that, for the elaboration of said plans, municipalities must take into account certain determinants that constitute higher hierarchy norms., which includes numeral 3, related to the marking and location of airports, as well as the ordinance guidelines for their areas of influence. For its part, in 2007, the Special Administrative Unit of Civil Aeronautics issued Resolution 01092, published in the official gazette No. 46591 of April 4, 2007, adopting rules on aerodromes, airports and heliports, adding as part 14 of the Aeronautical Regulations of Colombia (RAC 14). Thus, it establishes the requirements and demands, in addition to the technical conditions that all aerodromes, airports and heliports open to public or private operation in the Republic of Colombia must meet, in everything related to obstacle limitation surfaces.

Thus, in the preparation and adoption of Agreement No. 373/2014, by means of which the ordinary review of the contents of the Cali POT is adopted, the responsible and competent authorities had to observe and attend to the provisions of Resolution 01092/2007 and RAC 14, by express provision of Article 10 of Law 388/1997, which did not occur.

As a consequence, the planning of the territory did not take into account the location of the Marco Fidel Suárez Air Base — BAMFS, as well as the existing and applicable regulations for the adoption of the POT, on obstacle limitation surfaces.

Likewise, and since it is of interest to the specific case, it is appropriate to point out that Aerocivil, through Resolution No. 4072/2010, published in the official gazette No. 47813 of August 2010, added RAC 14 and included number 7.2 that deals with the authorization (concept of height) that the development and construction of facilities in the vicinity of the aerodromes must have, specifying that it is not a construction permit but a technical concept, independent of the construction licenses that corresponds to issue to the competent entities.

In said provision, mention is made of the Manual Guide 'Land Uses in Areas Surrounding Airports', issued by Aerocivil for the purposes of the authorization request procedure that is discussed.

7- The Mayor's Office assures that: "In January 2019 the Ministry of Defense and the Colombian Air Force filed a Popular Action against Cali for issuing construction licenses with a height greater than two stories without a technical concept from the FAC."

The Popular Action was not instituted against Cali; on the contrary, it was carried out to protect the interests of citizens and the Colombian State in the face of the refusal of the competent authorities to enforce the regulations in relation to construction at height in the vicinity of airfields, generating serious risks and violation of collective rights of the population, in relation to their safety and well-being.

The limitation of construction of more than two (02) floors, is due to omissions, technical errors and non-compliance with national and international regulations in the Land Use Plan, contemplated in its Art. 347 Top Construction Indexes, Paragraph 4, which establishes: "In the case of the area that is within the approach cone to the BAMFS established in map No. 45 (base construction index), while it is in operation, the height is restricted to two (02) floors".

The Colombian Air Force, through Popular Action, only seeks compliance with regulations. The limitation of the construction at height is based on the technical study as the State Aviation Aeronautical Authority — AAAES, established in the different international agreements and the Commercial Code Decree 410/1971, in its Articles 1823 (Definition of clearance surface) and 1824 (permission from the aeronautical authority to erect buildings or plantations) “Within the areas referred to in subsection 2. Of the previous article, constructions or plantations may not be erected without permission from the aeronautical authority”.

8- Later, it is assured in the video: "If each project that goes over two floors has to have the approval of the FAC from Bogotá, then 62% of the city loses the possibility of planning its own growth."

The Colombian Air Force, as the State Aviation Aeronautical Authority, only issues technical concepts based on the regulations for buildings at height in the vicinity of a military airport, to guarantee safety in air operations and that of the inhabitants.

The responsibility of planning the growth of the city and the issuance of construction licenses rests with the competent municipal authorities, who must apply the rules that regulate land use according to Law 388/1997 in its Art. 10, numeral 3 these "must take into account certain determinants that constitute higher hierarchical norms, which include numeral 3, related to the marking and location of airports, as well as the ordinance guidelines for their areas of influence."

Therefore, in an arbitrary manner, the responsibility for omissions and technical errors of those responsible and competent in city planning is being transferred to the FAC, by carrying out the 2014 POT, in Art. 347, Paragraph 4.

9- The Mayor's Office also says that: "The FAC is structuring a proposal to define block by block, which are the allowed heights."

The detailed zoning of the city of Cali, an initiative that the FAC is structuring, in a coordinated work and agreed with Municipal Planning, since December 2018, and being fulfilled in less time than established, is nothing other than a valuable tool that It will allow the different authorities that plan, regulate and issue construction licenses for the different urban projects to be swift.

He also comments: "But this does not make sense, no city plans by blocks"

It is important to reiterate that the planning of the development of the city corresponds to the municipal authorities; Therefore, the tool that the FAC is developing, of georeferenced and digital information of the entire city, can be used by the city of Cali as it deems appropriate, according to the responsibility that the authorities have in this matter.

10- The Mayor's Office assures that: “It is still nonsense that the FAC has the last word in the way the third city in the country grows”.

The Planning of the Territorial Order of the cities is the responsibility of the municipal authorities, not the FAC.

But it is true that municipal authorities must comply with established national and international laws and regulations and draw up their Land Management Plan and the projection of the growth of the city, based on these regulations, as is the case in any city in the world.

11- Says the Mayor's Office: “What's wrong with Cali staying low? The city needs to grow upwards to offer decent housing and improve the quality of life of the people of Cali, not only because it reduces the distances we must travel, but also because makes viable projects that otherwise would not exist......, in addition, no one will want to invest in Cali if they are afraid that the rules of the game will change from one moment to the next, and if all this were not enough, we would be wasting a golden opportunity”.

As evidenced in the height projects mentioned above and that comply with the existing regulations; Contrary to the erroneous idea that it is wanted to sell to the population, the city can grow in height as occurs in many cities worldwide, all highly developed and densely populated, which have an airport within its limits. Cali does not have to be the exception to the rule. The FAC is precisely looking for compliance with these standards established for several decades.

It is not the FAC that is changing the rules. An ill-intentioned speech seeks to transfer to the Colombian Air Force, the responsibility for the omission of regulations on the part of those who were obliged to observe them.

12- Consequently, the FAC is not affecting the area of the city; on the contrary, it provides security for its inhabitants and creates conditions for their development.

—The affectation of the areas obeys to the planning of the territorial order, without the observance of current norms on the part of those who are responsible for it.

—The FAC has always sought to protect the highest interests of the State, creating security conditions that truly generate progress, development and, therefore, national and foreign investment in the city.

Finally, for the Mayor's Office: "The operations of the Combat Command must adapt to Cali and not the other way around."

The Marco Fidel Suárez Air Base is a strategic asset of the nation, being the only Air Base in the entire southwest of Colombia, with the mission of protecting the highest interests of the State as established by the Constitution, a matter of national security, in which the collective interests are over the particular interests.

This Military Air Unit is located within the strategic area No. 1 of the Country, with responsibility in the departments of Valle del Cauca, Cauca and Nariño, safeguarding the defense and well-being of 7,981,206 inhabitants in the 148 municipalities that comprise it. Likewise, it controls that airspace and the borders with Ecuador and Panama. This priority area has all the instability factors found in the country, with the presence of different GAOS, GDOS, drug trafficking and common crime.

The presence of the Air Combat Command No. 7 in the city of Cali is decisive to face threats that are even less than eight minutes away, its capabilities being required in the development of area military control operations, military operations and defense of the population and critical infrastructure of the State in a joint, coordinated and interagency manner, becoming a strategic asset and a unified command post for the city in crisis situations.

It is also necessary to clarify that, from the Air Base, aircraft of the entire Public Force operate in response to the requirements and provision of citizen security.

All air operations that are deployed from EMAVI demand the security provided by compliance with the regulations on obstacle limiting surfaces.

The precautionary measures that protect the collective rights of citizens do not hinder the vertical development of the city; on the contrary, they allow the granting of licenses by the competent authority in compliance with the regulations.

Cali should remember that the Marco Fidel Suárez Air Base has been key in the development of military air operations, in the attention of natural disasters and catastrophes, such as:

— Earthquake in the city of Popayán — 1983.

— Search and rescue flight 965 American Airlines, crashed in the hills near Buga — 1995.

— Coffee Axis Earthquake — 1999.

— Operations against Organized Armed Groups, Organized Criminal Groups, Drug Trafficking, illicit exploitation of mining deposits and natural resources and common crime in a joint, coordinated and interagency manner.

— 36 humanitarian aeromedical evacuations — 2019.

— Fire extinguishing on tutelary hills in the city of Cali.

— Aerial bridges for cargo transportation and humanitarian aid due to the closure of the Pan-American highway.

— Protection of strategic assets in the Southwest of the Country.

— Strengthening citizen security and critical infrastructure in Cali.

Therefore, such sensitive operations cannot be restricted or limited simply by a regulatory omission that discharges such responsibility on the Colombian Air Force, with a malicious speech, pretending to misinform the public, generating uncertainty and, at some point, animosity towards an institution that, over 100 years, has rendered an invaluable service to Colombians.