Rogue drone sightings in Singapore on 24th June this year left passengers stranded at the arrival hall of Changi Airport Terminal 2. The Singapore authorities have taken the matter seriously and are working full time to avert such incidents in the future according to news agencies. Just last week, two people were charged with operating a drone close to an aerodrome, while another two cases are being prosecuted.
Currently in Singapore:
- There is a ban on flying drones within 5km of airports or military airbases, or at altitudes above 61m, without a permit.
- Those flouting the rules can be fined up to $20,000 and jailed for up to a year.
The Singapore government has now announced stricter rules for drone flying in view of the Changi incident.
- All drones will have to be registered and the Government is looking to raise penalties for those who flout flying rules.
- A licensing framework for pilots of large and more capable drones will also be introduced.
- Drone registration – possibly before year end – will ensure that operators are made aware of their responsibilities and undertake to conduct their activities in a responsible manner, he said.
- There will also be stricter enforcement actions against errant drone operators.
Responding to MPs who asked about the unauthorised drone activity that led to 55 flight delays and eight diversions over two nights on June 18 and 24 Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min said that Police investigations are ongoing.
“We have learnt from the experiences of other airports that identifying the perpetrators can be challenging and will take time,” Dr Lam said adding, “Meanwhile, our priority is to detect the drones promptly and prevent them from affecting air traffic and endangering public safety.”
Responding to Workers’ Party Non-Constituency MP Dennis Tan, who asked about geofencing technology at the airport, Dr Lam said that while such solutions can keep drones out of restricted areas, there are limitations. For the technology to work a drone must first be fitted with the necessary software that uses the global positioning system (GPS) and other navigational satellite signals to automatically help prevent it from flying near sensitive locations.
While some have suggested banning drones after the recent incidents, Dr Lam pointed out the many beneficial uses of drones like commercial applications such as drone deliveries and inspections besides many recreational users in Singapore. Dr Lam said: “It is therefore important that we continue to take a balanced approach.”
Dr. Lam said the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) established the UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) Advisory Panel earlier this year to help review and recommend enhancements to the regulatory framework. Dr Lam said he has urged the unmanned aerial system advisory panel reviewing the regulations to “double up” on their efforts and bring forward the implementation timeline for compulsory registration.
According to Dr Lam Singapore’s aviation authorities have also stepped up countermeasures at Changi Airport to detect and disrupt drones quicker.
Dr Lam noted that the CAAS has also been “judiciously managing” air traffic operations in Changi to ensure minimal disruptions to flight operations, through “risk-based approaches in terms of planning for departures and arrivals”.
Dr Lam stated, “We have sort of worked out the SOP (standard operating procedures) and conducted tabletop exercises to run through operational plans so we can cope with similar incidents within our own airspace,” he said.
Dr Lam also said that CAAS and Changi Airport Group are tapping on security agencies’ assets without compromising their operational needs. “We have taken a multi-agency approach and deployed national resources towards ensuring the safety of Changi Airport operations.”
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