$9,000 fine for man who flew drone in Punggol field without permit

Tay Miow Seng and his friend each flew a drone at the field within 5km of Paya Lebar Air Base on June 26, 2019. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - A 41-year-old man who flew a drone without permit in an open field in Punggol was fined $9,000 on Thursday (March 5).

Tay Miow Seng pleaded guilty in the State Courts on Dec 27 last year to flying the drone for recreational purposes at the field within 5km of Paya Lebar Air Base without a valid Class 2 activity permit and operating it in a manner likely to endanger the safety of aircraft.

A separate charge of unlawfully flying his drone within Coney Island on March 26 last year was taken into consideration by the court during sentencing on Thursday.

The court had earlier heard that Tay and his friend, Ed Chen Junyuan, each flew a drone in the open field in Punggol on June 26 last year. They were subsequently detained on the same day by police officers.

Both men were the first to be charged for unlawfully flying a drone in Singapore. Chen was convicted and fined $2,000 last year.

On Thursday, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) said in a statement: "CAAS takes a serious view of errant operations of unmanned aircraft which may pose threats to aviation or endanger the personal safety of others."

It added that it will not hesitate to take enforcement action against operators of unmanned aircraft who contravene regulations.

Penalties for various offences involving unmanned aircraft such as drones were raised after Parliament passed amendments to the Air Navigation Act last year.

First-time offenders caught flying an unmanned aircraft without a valid permit face a maximum sentence of two years' jail and a $50,000 fine, while repeat offenders face a maximum sentence of five years' jail and a $100,000 fine.

Additionally, any person who recklessly or knowingly operates an unmanned aircraft in a manner that endangers the life or property of another person can be jailed up to 10 years, or fined up to $100,000, or both.

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.