Strict rules as drones can cause trouble for aviation

While recreational drone-flying without a permit is allowed in Singapore, drone pilots must ensure they keep to certain regulations.
While recreational drone-flying without a permit is allowed in Singapore, drone pilots must ensure they keep to certain regulations.PHOTO: ST FILE

Considering Singapore's busy airspace and densely populated urban environment, tough laws are implemented to ensure that unmanned aircraft are piloted responsibly.

And while recreational drone-flying without a permit is allowed, drone pilots must ensure they keep to certain regulations.

These are detailed in the Unmanned Aircraft (Public Safety and Security) Act, passed in 2015 to better regulate the operation of drones and reduce the occurrence of accidents.

Offences include:

• Flying a drone within 5km of airports or military airbases, or at altitudes above 200ft (61m), without a permit;

• Using an unmanned aircraft for activities that are neither recreational nor research in nature without a Class 1 activity permit; and

• Using an unmanned aircraft weighing 7kg or more (including payload) for activities that are either recreational or research in nature without a Class 1 activity permit.

 
 
 

The penalties are severe. Those found guilty of violating these regulations face a fine of up to $20,000 or a jail term of up to 12 months, or both.

Drones continue to pose a threat to aviation and have disrupted air traffic around the world. Here are two major cases:

• United States: Drone sightings in northern New Jersey caused plane arrivals to Newark Liberty International Airport to come to a temporary halt. Flights into the 11th-busiest US airport were suspended briefly for about an hour after two drones were spotted in a nearby regional airport in late January.

• United Kingdom: Flights from London's busiest airport, Heathrow, were delayed for about an hour in early January after reports of a drone sighting. This took place less than a month after drones were seen repeatedly at London's second-busiest airport, Gatwick, on three consecutive days in December last year. About 1,000 flights were either cancelled or diverted, with 140,000 passengers affected.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 26, 2019, with the headline 'Strict rules as drones can cause trouble for aviation'. Print Edition | Subscribe