Spain’s DGT Will Reportedly Scrap Its Helicopter Traffic Surveillance Service

Image of a DGT traffic surveillance helicopter.

Image of a DGT traffic surveillance helicopter. Credit: Gustavo MS_Photography/

THE General Directorate of Traffic (DGT) in Spain is to dismantle its helicopter surveillance service.

As reported in a statement this Friday, October 20, by the Independent Trade Union Centre and Civil Servants (CSIF), it is a situation that will harm traffic control and road safety.

After voicing its suspicions that the real intention of the DGT is to: ‘replace the fleet of helicopters with drones through a progressive dissolution and privatisation of this fundamental service’, the union has asked for explanations.

The DGT’s response has been that the latest maintenance contracts have not been awarded, which, in the opinion of CSIF: ‘puts the helicopter service in a very delicate situation, as they are gradually being taken out of service’.

Only six out of a fleet of 13 helicopters are operational

Specifically, they pointed out that of the 13 helicopters that make up the DGT’s fleet for monitoring roads throughout Spain, only six are currently in service.

One is based in Zaragoza, which covers Aragón, another is in Valladolid, where it covers Castilla y León, one is based in Valencia, and the remaining three are based in Madrid, where they also monitor the roads of Castilla-La Mancha

There were no helicopters operating in the Basque Country, Navarre or Catalonia, where the responsibility for monitoring traffic was transferred. The Canary and Balearic Islands have no helicopters watching the roads.

According to the CSIF, this situation: ‘has left Andalucia (Sevilla and Malaga) and the northwest of the mainland (La Coruña) without coverage, and in less than two months Valencia will no longer be operational, leaving the Levante and Murcia areas unassisted’.

Two of the seven helicopters that are out of service will be repaired

The DGT reported that it intends to repair two of the seven aircraft that are currently out of service to reinforce surveillance of the north and south of the country, something that CSIF described as ‘absolutely insufficient’.

Of these seven helicopters, two are said to be no longer usable because they were destroyed after separate accidents, and the other five have not undergone maintenance work. The union said it considered that: “it is detrimental to the control of traffic control and road safety’.

In their opinion, drones do not have the speed or autonomy to pursue offenders who drive at high speeds. Similarly, they can not capture people who travel without a seat belt or those who use their cell phones behind the wheel. The union also believes that drones can not fulfil the deterrent function that helicopters perform.

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Written by

Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at