A close coordination is now being done by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) with the Balikatan management, following the reported interruption of the Balikatan 2023 exercises in Zambales by a civilian aircraft flying within the no-fly zone.
CAAP spokesman Eric Apolonio said the reported incident is currently under investigation and the Balikatan management, together with the CAAP, are working together to identify and determine details about the concerned aircraft.
Apolonio said CAAP has issued seven notices to airmen (NOTAMs) in the area, which has declared it a no-fly zone. The CAAP issues airspace restrictions through a NOTAM and ensures that pilots and aircraft operators are briefed by its Air Traffic Service (ATS) before flight plans are accepted, especially with regards to no-fly zones.
It was learned that the said Balikatan exercise is the largest annual bilateral training exercise between the US and Philippine militaries. This year’s Balikatan exercise is its 38th and largest iteration to date.
CAAP would like to assure the public that it is committed to ensuring the safety of all air operations within its jurisdiction, especially in sensitive areas such as during military exercises, Apolonio said.