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Drone sightings at Changi Airport force closure of one runway, nearly 40 flights affected

The operations of one runway were suspended for short periods between 11pm on Jun 18 and 9am on Jun 19.

Drone sightings at Changi Airport force closure of one runway, nearly 40 flights affected

Planes parked on the tarmac at Singapore's Changi Airport. (File photo: CAG)

SINGAPORE: A total of 38 flights were affected after Changi Airport was forced to close one runway because of drone sightings in the vicinity of the airport, said the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) on Wednesday (Jun 19).  

"To ensure the safety of aircraft operations and passengers, the operations of one runway were suspended for short periods of time between 11pm on Jun 18 and 9am on Jun 19," said the authority in a statement.

During this time, Changi Airport operated with one runway. 

Thirty-seven scheduled departure and arrival flights were delayed, while one arrival flight was diverted to Kuala Lumpur, said CAAS. 

Singapore Airlines (SIA) said 19 of its flights - mainly on its Southwest Pacific, Southeast Asia, North Asia and Europe routes - were affected by the runway closure. 

The delays in arrivals and departures were between 8 minutes and 33 minutes, SIA added.

"Passengers who needed to make flight connections were assisted accordingly," a spokesperson for the airline said.

"A multi-agency team including the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, Changi Airport Group, Singapore Armed Forces and the Singapore Police Force was activated for the search and locate operations," it said. 

Investigations are ongoing. 

READ: 8 reports of illegal drone flying near Changi Airport over past 3 years

Unauthorised drone flying has caused airport disruptions around the world. 

In December last year, London's Gatwick airport was crippled for three days in the run-up to Christmas, causing around 1,000 flights to be cancelled or diverted and wrecking the travel plans of about 150,000 passengers.

WATCH: Lam Pin Min on vulnerability of Singapore airports to drone activity

WATCH: How does Singapore deal with the danger of drones in no-fly zones? 

In Singapore, drones are prohibited from flying within 5km of an airport without a permit.

Law enforcement officers conduct regular surveillance patrols around Changi Airport and respond to sightings of unauthorised drones, said Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min in Parliament earlier this year.

CAAS said on Wednesday that it takes a serious view of errant operations of unmanned aircraft which may pose threats to aviation or endanger the personal safety of others, and will not hesitate to take enforcement action.

Offenders could face a jail term of up to 12 months and a fine of up to S$20,000.

Source: CNA/aa/ec(gs)


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