Parliament: CAAS looking to develop system that can monitor drones islandwide

The system will allow Singapore to check if individual drones are operating under valid permits, and issue alerts to pilots who fall afoul of regulations.
The system will allow Singapore to check if individual drones are operating under valid permits, and issue alerts to pilots who fall afoul of regulations.PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) intends to develop a system that can monitor unmanned aircraft systems islandwide.

This system will allow Singapore to check if individual drones are operating under valid permits, and issue alerts to pilots who fall afoul of regulations, Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min announced in Parliament on Monday (Jan 14).

Dr Lam said this is part of an approach to deal with cooperative unmanned aircraft.

"As for uncooperative unmanned aircraft systems, CAAS actually cooperates with Changi Airport Group, the Defence Science and Technology Agency, Ministry of Defence as well as Ministry of Home Affairs to neutralise either by force down or destroying rogue (aircraft) swiftly," he added.

Force down refers to forcing an aircraft to land. The Republic of Singapore Air Force has weapons such as a jammer gun, which emits signals that can jam the control signals of drones, as well as a drone catcher system, which uses a net to catch the aircraft.

Dr Lam was responding to a question from Ms Foo Mee Har (West Coast GRC), who asked what anti-drone technology can be deployed to track drone signals in Singapore and how this technology can disrupt drones.

Mr Darryl David (Ang Mo Kio GRC), Mr Lim Biow Chuan (Mountbatten) and Non-Constituency MP Dennis Tan also asked about Singapore's existing anti-drone capabilities, amid drone-induced disruptions that affected two major London airports recently.

Dr Lam said eight instances of unauthorised unmanned aircraft systems flying within 5km of Changi Airport were recorded in the past three years.

But none of these cases involved intrusions into Changi Airport.

As part of efforts to enforce restrictions on drone flying around both Changi and Seletar airports, the CAAS has been engaging auxiliary police to conduct regular surveillance and patrols in the two areas, Dr Lam added.

Last month, London's second-busiest airport Gatwick was severely disrupted when drones were sighted on three consecutive days, resulting in about 1,000 flights being cancelled or diverted and affecting 140,000 passengers.

Last Tuesday, flights from the Heathrow airport were halted for about an hour after a drone was sighted near Europe's busiest air hub.

In Singapore, the flying of drones within 5km of airports or military airbases, or at altitudes above 200ft (61m), without a permit is an offence.

Those found guilty of violating these regulations face a fine of up to $20,000 or up to 12 months in jail, or both.