George Wehner, the United Progressive Party (UPP) mobilization officer, says plans by the Gaston Browne administration to send medical supplies to Barbuda using drones would be breaking the law.
PM Browne during an interview on State television on Sunday night (October 9) made mention of having Healthcare packages being delivered to the sister island by way of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), commonly known as a drone.
These devices operate under remote control by a human operator, as remotely-piloted aircraft (RPA).
Wehner, who has some technical knowledge about aviation, says that the prime minister seems to have conceived this idea as a result of his recent trip to recent Rwanda for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
According to Wehner, this seems to be another initiative in the Labour Party’s electioneering scheme, which he terms to be ill-conceived.
Wehner says that unlike Antigua, Barbuda has three airstrips- one in Codrington (to the northern end of the island), the new one that is being constructed (in the middle of the island) and the third on the southern tip of the island, at Cocoa Point, which is a private airfield.
The UPP mobilization officer says what he finds interesting with this plan is that based on the Civil Aviation Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems Regulations of 2019, no remotely piloted aircraft is allowed within a 2.5 miles of any airfield in Antigua and Barbuda.
Wehner says if this were to be plotted on a map it would mean that no aircraft (drones) remotely piloted can operate within Barbuda.
He says that this initiative will not work and gives reasons for his conclusion, which includes the fact that it breaches the legislation.
Another reason espoused by Wehner is that the drone would have to be launched in Barbuda since the island is at least 25 miles away from mainland Antigua.
Wehner says that the drones will be flying blindly so to speak, since there is no Air Traffic Control Tower on the island to give landing directions.
He says that manned planes which fly to the sister isle have to do certain procedures before making a landing.
Wehner is expressing skepticism as to how this venture would work and questions whether the regulations would be changed.