Drone flights suspended pending crash probe results


11-April-2012

Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Paul Adam and the United States Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said this at State House on Monday after talks with Vice-President Danny Faure.

They gave the assurance following last Wednesday’s accident at the Seychelles International Airport – the second in four months – in which a drone crash landed and veered into the sea.

“The Vice-President and I discussed the necessity for those unmanned vehicles to be operated in a very safe, very effective manner and that if anything happens such as the accident last week, that the investigation will be thorough and fully transparent,” Mr Mabus told the media.

Mr Adam said Seychelles’ government had expressed its concern following the accidents and the US authorities “gave us the assurance that they will not make any new flights until the investigation into the accidents is done”.

Our lead article in yesterday’s Nation headed: No more flights by US drones, was therefore misleading and we regret the impression – that the stoppage of flights is permanent – it may have created.

A section of the international media also wrongly claimed that the planes have carried out missions over Somalia and the Horn of Africa from the Seychelles and also had unwarranted speculation.

The drones are used for the surveillance of our exclusive economic zone against illegal activities like piracy, drug trafficking and unauthorised fishing.

Late yesterday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs wrote saying:
“Following inaccurate media speculation today (yesterday), the ministry wishes to clarify, on behalf of the Government of Seychelles, that there are no long term concerns regarding US drone flights from Seychelles International Airport.

“The cease in operations will be temporary, and operations are expected to resume in the next few weeks. A comprehensive examination is ongoing by US experts into the recent malfunction of an MQ-9 last Wednesday.

“The Government of Seychelles is confident that this matter will be resolved soon as it has received assurances from the US delegation, which was in Seychelles for a previously planned visit, that the incident would be investigated in a thorough and transparent manner.”

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