Tougher penalties for drone offences, compulsory registration to be implemented

Tougher penalties for drone offences, compulsory registration to be implemented

Man in Singapore operates drone
File photo: A man operates a remote control drone at an open car park in Singapore on Apr 5, 2016. (Photo: AFP/ ROSLAN RAHMAN)

SINGAPORE: Operators of unmanned aircraft (UA) face heavier penalties for offences, after amendments to the Air Navigation Bill were passed in Parliament on Monday (Nov 4).

Speaking in Parliament, Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min announced a host of harsher penalties for UA-related offences to better deter potential offenders.

Those who do not have the required aviation safety instruments, such as operator or activity permits, could face jail terms - up to two years for first offenders and up to five years for repeat offenders.

The maximum fines will remain at S$50,000 for first-time offenders, and S$100,000 for
repeat offenders.

For offenders who use UA to overfly, take photographs of a protected area, or discharge substances without authorisation, there will be higher fines and jail terms.

First-time offenders will see maximum fines of S$50,000 instead of S$20,000, and could potentially face jail terms of up to two years. Repeat offenders will face a maximum fine of S$100,000 or up to five years in jail, or both.

READ: Man fined for flying drone near airbase without permit in a first ruling of its kind

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In cases where offenders fail to listen to directives from enforcement officers in operating their UA, the maximum jail term will be raised from one to two years. The maximum fine will remain at S$20,000.

There will also be “higher custodial punishment” for doing, causing or permitting any act involving a UA, with knowledge or being reckless as to whether it could endanger lives or property.

Offenders will face fines of up to S$100,000, a maximum jail term of 10 years, or both.

MANDATORY REGISTRATION FOR DRONES ABOVE 250G

In addition, all UA above 250g must be registered with the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) from Jan 2 next year, for “accountability and traceability”, said Dr Lam.

There will be a registration fee of S$15 per UA and drone operators will have to purchase registration labels and submit a picture of the UA affixed with the registration label to CAAS.

There will be a three-month grace period  from Jan 2 for owners to register their drones, and from Apr 2 onwards, it will be an offence to operate an unregistered UA in Singapore.

Offenders who do not comply will face fines up to S$10,000 or imprisonment of up to six months, or both.

“Today, the penalty for most of the offences involving UA is a maximum fine of S$20,000,” said Dr Lam.

“This has obviously not served as a deterrent. It is also manifestly inadequate when one takes into account the damage and disruption UA can cause when operated in an irresponsible way.

“In particular, we need to make sure that we have higher penalties for repeat offenders who fail to learn from their mistakes, and offenders who knowingly or recklessly operate a UA in a manner that endangers lives or property.”

Source: CNA/cc

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