Singaporeans charged over illegal drone flying

Two men will face a fine of up to Sg$20,000 (US$14,700) if convicted for flying drones near a military airbase without permission disrupting flights in Changi’s airport. (AFP pic)

SINGAPORE: Two Singaporean men were charged today with flying drones near a military airbase without permission, the city-state’s first such prosecutions as it cracks down on illegal use of the devices.

The growing popularity of unmanned aerial vehicles is a challenge for aviation regulators worldwide and the prosecutions come after flights at Singapore’s main airport were disrupted twice last month by drones.

Ed Chen Junyuan, 37, and Tay Miow Seng, 40, appeared in court charged with one count each of operating a small drone within 5km of Paya Lebar Air Base without the correct permit.

The offences allegedly took place in an open field on June 26, according to court documents.

It is the first prosecution of individuals under a law regulating drone use, said Josephus Tan from Invictus Law Corporation, who is representing the men.

The first case against a company was launched in May, local media reports said.

According to the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, a permit is required when using drones for recreational purposes within 5km of an airport or military airbase, or flying them at altitude of over 200 feet.

The men face a fine of up to Sg$20,000 (US$14,700) if convicted.

Drones are more and more frequently causing havoc for air traffic around the world.

As well as Singapore’s Changi Airport, London’s Gatwick and Heathrow and a string of other major hubs have been affected.