Panel set up to review unmanned aircraft laws

There is currently a ban in Singapore on flying drones within 5km of airports or military airbases, or at altitudes above 200 feet (about 60m), without a permit.
There is currently a ban in Singapore on flying drones within 5km of airports or military airbases, or at altitudes above 200 feet (about 60m), without a permit.PHOTO: ST FILE

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) will reach out to different groups, including residents, as it reviews regulations here surrounding unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), which include drones.

In a release yesterday, the CAAS said it has set up an unmanned aircraft systems advisory panel. The panel, comprising 12 members, is expected to provide its recommendations by early next year.

The move follows an announcement in January by Senior Minister of State for Transport and Health Lam Pin Min, who said in Parliament that CAAS plans to develop a system to monitor unmanned aircraft.

This, he added, will allow the CAAS to check if individual drones are operating under a valid permit, and to issue alerts to pilots who fall foul of regulations.

There is currently a ban in Singapore on flying drones within 5km of airports or military airbases or at altitudes above 61m without a permit. Those found guilty face a fine of up to $20,000 or up to 12 months in jail, or both.

In its statement yesterday, the CAAS said that as part of its engagement, the panel will reach out to seek views and feedback from users, residents and other stakeholder groups before making its recommendations.

This panel will be chaired by veteran Republic of Singapore Air Force pilot Timothy De Souza, who is also a member of the Presidential Council for Minority Rights.

 
 

The other members represent UAS stakeholders, including representatives from the industry, interest groups, training organisations, academia, government agencies, and grassroots organisations.

Mr Mark Yong, chief executive of drone operations platform and solutions firm Garuda Robotics, applauded the panel's efforts to engage the public as this would help quash misconceptions surrounding drones and other UAS.

"It is important to engage the public early and help them understand how unmanned aircraft systems can deliver benefits to society in a safe and predictable manner. Drones will inspect building facades to detect faults early, provide aerial security for key installations, and deliver critical medical equipment to save lives," he said.

He added that CAAS has continually evolved regulations "to enable the industry to deliver more benefits of UAS while maintaining public safety".

It was reported earlier this year that Singapore's drone regulations were being beefed up. This includes a compulsory online training programme, a pilot licensing scheme, and stricter rules like partial or full certification for heavier unmanned aircraft of more than 25kg.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 24, 2019, with the headline 'Panel set up to review unmanned aircraft laws'. Print Edition | Subscribe