SINGAPORE: A student who flew a drone at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) to take photos of his girlfriend and her friend was fined S$5,000 by a court on Monday (Oct 10) for flouting drone regulations.
Xu Zi Zhou, 25, pleaded guilty to one count of operating an unmanned aircraft without a valid activity permit within 5km of Tengah aerodrome. Another two charges relating to unmanned aircraft operations regulations were taken into consideration.
The court heard that Xu bought a DJI Mavic Air 2 drone from online shopping platform Shopee on May 28, 2021.
Xu, a China national on a student pass, took the 568.5g drone and carried out a few test flights around the National University of Singapore, where he was studying.
On Jun 1, 2021, Xu met his girlfriend and one of her friends and proceeded to Yunnan Garden in NTU.
Xu used the drone to take photographs and videos of his girlfriend and her friend there.
At about 4.30pm that day, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) detected the drone flying at a maximum altitude of 518.37 feet (158m) above mean sea level and within 5km of Tengah aerodrome.
CAAS officers dispatched to Yunnan Garden saw Xu operating the drone and asked him to land it.
Based on the flight logs of the drone, Xu had flown it five times that day with a total flight time of 18 minutes.
According to CAAS' regulations, a Class 2 activity permit is required for unmanned aircraft activities performed outdoors under various conditions. These include: If the drone is to be used for recreational purposes and is 25kg or below in total mass, if the flight is within 5km of any civil aerodrome or military airbase and if the drone is flown at an altitude of higher than 200 feet above mean sea level.
If Xu had applied for such a permit, CAAS would have required him to operate the drone in compliance with safe operating conditions.
For operating an unmanned aircraft within 5km of Tengah aerodrome without a valid activity permit, Xu could have been jailed for up to two years, fined up to S$50,000, or both.