Rope in public to spot errant drones

A sign prohibiting the flying of drones.
A sign prohibiting the flying of drones.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

When I asked whether drones could force a shutdown of Changi Airport after rogue drones did so at London's Gatwick Airport in December last year (Can drones force closure of Changi Airport?, Dec 27, 2018), the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore said measures were in place to manage errant drones here (Measures in place to manage errant drones in Singapore, Jan 1).

As it turns out, these measures were just found to be manifestly inadequate, and drone incursions have occurred around both military and civilian airports.

Perhaps the authorities were too passive in their response then, and legislation for drone registration should have been started then instead of now (S'pore to require mandatory registration for all drones, July 9).

Low-tech drones flying below radar detection are notoriously difficult to detect and bring down without collateral disruption to smooth airport operations, and the registration of drones does not solve the problem of intrusive drones launched by miscreants from elsewhere.

Perhaps the best way of attacking the drone problem is by roping in the public to spot these disruptive pests near airports, and track their presence and their approaching directions with video evidence, with a well publicised hotline and website for reporting the whereabouts and seeming origin of these nuisances. Ten million eyeballs may help where radar falls short.

Yik Keng Yeong (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 11, 2019, with the headline 'Rope in public to spot errant drones'. Print Edition | Subscribe