Two men charged with flying drones without permit; one allegedly took aerial videos of military base

Neo Wei Ren (left) and Lee Soon Tee could be fined up to $20,000 if found guilty. ST PHOTOS: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - Two men were charged on Tuesday morning (June 9) with flying their drones without a permit.

Neo Wei Ren, 35, allegedly operated a drone, or an unmanned aircraft (UA), over the Ministry of Defence's Gombak Base and used the drone to take aerial footage on several occasions in 2019, the police said in a statement on Monday night.

Separately, Lee Soon Tee, 66, allegedly operated a drone on Sept 22, 2019, at an open field in Tampines, in an area within 5km of Paya Lebar Airbase.

The police identified Neo through ground inquiries after receiving a report about the drone flying in the vicinity of Gombak Base, which is a protected area.

Neo is said to have operated the drone from a house along Cashew Crescent seven times without the necessary permits between May and October 2019, according to court documents.

Furthermore, the police said he had allegedly taken aerial videos of Gombak Base using the drone, which was flown into the airspace above the base. For this, he was charged with four counts of prohibited photography over a protected area using a UA.

For flying a drone into the airspace above Gombak Base on five separate occasions, he was charged with five counts of operating a UA over a protected area.

Neo also faces seven charges for operating a UA at an altitude above the regulatory height of 61m on all seven occasions without a permit.

He will return to court on July 1.

In the other case, the police identified Lee after receiving a report of a drone recovered from the roof of Tampines Wafer Substation on Sept 23 last year.

He had allegedly operated the drone on Sept 22 at the open field along Tampines Industrial Avenue 2, within 5km of Paya Lebar Airbase.

For this offence, Lee was charged with operating a UA within 5km of an aerodrome - which refers to a location where aircraft flight operations take place - without a permit.

Lee will return to court on June 30.

If found guilty of operating their drones without the necessary permits, both men could be fined up to $20,000.

If convicted of prohibited photography over a protected area using a UA, or of operating a UA over a protected area, Neo could be fined up to $50,000, jailed for up to two years, or both.

With effect from Jan 2, 2020, operating a UA without the required permit is an offence and those found guilty can be fined up to $50,000, jailed for up to two years, or both.

Those who fly drones, or other types of UA, can refer to the website or OneMap app to check the areas where flying a UA is not allowed unless a permit has been obtained.

The police also reminded users that recreational flying of UA outdoors during this phase of reopening after circuit breaker measures is not allowed.

Any UA with a weight of more than 250g must be registered before it can be operated in Singapore.

The police said they will not condone the flying of a UA in an unsafe and irresponsible manner, as that poses a risk to aviation and public safety and security.

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