Man was flying drone without permit when it landed on LRT tracks and was hit by a train

Full-time national serviceman Homen Wong pleaded guilty to operating the drone in a manner that could endanger the safety of persons and property.
Full-time national serviceman Homen Wong pleaded guilty to operating the drone in a manner that could endanger the safety of persons and property.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - A full-time national serviceman was flying a drone near Sengkang LRT station without a proper permit when it ran out of battery power, landed on the tracks and was struck by a train.

Fortunately, the incident on Feb 8 last year did not cause any damage to the train and services were not disrupted.

On Wednesday (Dec 18), 21-year-old Homen Wong, who has since completed his national service, pleaded guilty to operating the drone in a manner that could endanger the safety of persons and property.

A second charge of operating the device without a valid Class 2 activity permit within 5km of two aerodromes - Seletar Airport and Paya Lebar Air Base - will be considered during sentencing.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Houston Johannus said that Wong had flown the DJI Mavic Pro drone at an open field next to Sengkang LRT station some time in the late afternoon without a valid Class 2 activity permit from the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS).

The DPP added: "If he had applied for such an activity permit, CAAS would have required Homen to operate his drone in compliance with safe operating conditions."

He said the conditions included ensuring that the drone is not flown for longer than 85 per cent of the maximum battery endurance, and that it does not interfere with public transport or emergency service providers, or endanger members of the public.

Wong operated his drone at a maximum height of 50m that day. It flew over the train tracks, as he wanted to capture aerial videos and photographs of trains entering and leaving the LRT station.

DPP Johannus told District Judge Seah Chi-Ling: "Homen had not ensured its battery power was sufficient for the flight. As a result, Homen lost control of the drone and it landed autonomously on the train tracks of Sengkang LRT station where it was eventually struck by an LRT train."

 
 

Wong later approached staff at the station and asked for their assistance to get hold of the drone. They helped retrieve the damaged device a week later and returned it to him.

After this, Wong posted a video of the incident, entitled "DJI Mavic Pro survived train crash", onto YouTube. SBS Transit then made a report to the CAAS about the incident on April 9 last year.

Wong will be sentenced on Jan 9 next year.

First-time offenders convicted of operating a drone in a manner that could endanger the safety of persons and property can be fined up to $20,000. Repeat offenders can be jailed for up to 15 months and fined up to $40,000.