NTU housing manager fined $7,500 for flying drone to check if hall rooftop was cleaned

9 Nov 2021

SINGAPORE – A housing and auxiliary services manager at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) wanted to check if the roof at a hall on campus was properly cleaned, so he flew his unlicensed drone to take pictures of it.

On Monday (Nov 8), Albert Yu Yeong Jian, 54, was fined $7,500 for flying the 570g unregistered drone last year. He flew it again later that same morning at an altitude exceeding 200 feet (61m) above mean sea level, which requires a permit he did not have.

Four other similar charges were taken into account for his sentencing.

NTU told The Straits Times that Yu is still an employee with the university and any employee who violates the law and university rules may be subject to disciplinary action.

The court heard that on May 27 last year at about 8am, Yu, who was unrepresented in court, operated his unmanned aircraft, or drone, to take pictures of the rooftop of Hall 4.

“The accused did so on the request of a colleague to determine whether cleaning of the rooftop had been properly carried out,” said Deputy Public Prosecutor David Koh.

The colleague’s name was not mentioned in court documents.

Soon after, Yu drove to Carpark F of NTU and operated the drone from there to take pictures for recreational purposes.

Investigations revealed that during this flight, the drone operated at a maximum altitude of around 155m near NTU’s Sports and Recreation Hall.

The offences were detected by the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) aeroscope. RSAF personnel contacted Yu, who complied with their requests to land the drone.

DPP Koh urged the court for a fine of $8,000, noting that NTU is an educational and residential site and “foot traffic would not be small” should the drone stop working and fall.

The prosecution added that one of the charges taken into account for sentencing involves Yu flying the drone within 5km of Tengah Air Base, where it could have potentially caused disruption or harm to aircraft operations.

In sentencing, District Judge Lorraine Ho noted that Yu had since obtained the relevant licences to operate his drone, and is also a first-time offender.

For operating the unmanned aircraft which is not registered in Singapore by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, Yu could have been fined $10,000, jailed for up to six months, or both.

For operating the drone outdoors without the relevant activity permit for a recreational purpose, Yu could have been fined up to $50,000, jailed for up to two years, or both.

FPV Smart Modes?

Is it imaginable where everyone can, with a tap of a few buttons and settings?

All argument of it being not real FPV flying aside, just not too long ago, soldering, selecting the right ESC to go with the right RPM motors were part and parcel of building a drone. DJI has disrupted the whole market making it easier and objectively safer than ever to fly a drone.

It has been easier to get the shots you want automatically. During commercial shoot, we have encountered Directors who do not care how you get the shots, they just envision the shots in their head and want us to “do it”. Smart modes were used sparsely but at times, it is one of the easiest to get repeated shots without having to pull our hair out.

Smart modes are easy to use one tap, set and go modes that are predefined flight paths and/ or gimbal movement(s) like the following:

Vision sensors already exists on a few drones. It can easily be used to measure the facade of the building distance to the drone, making sure the distance is enough for say…a vertical dive.

Or a power loop.

It can and will happen, waiting for innovations like these soon.

Commentary – Sony Airpeak

Sony is a company to be reckoned with. They can be the new market force someone is looking for to break the monopoly DJI has. Sony show off their Air Peak drone during CES 2021. It looks like an “enterprise” class one and we really hope to not brush it aside as simply oh no one will buy if the price is 10k and up. Need a Sony camera and how it fits into any current workflow or eco system?

If Sony is half hearted thinking like Gopro did with their Karma, yes they named it Karma back then. “We are already making great cameras”. Really small and light ones too mind you, back when GoPro tried their hands on drones. They even allowed you to take off the gimbal from the drone and use the whole gimbal as a handheld gimbal when not flying. Then slap your existing Sony cameras onto a drone and call it a day? We’ll be seeing Sony burning off millions then end their drone division. Just another tiny drop that didn’t cause much ripple in the giant sea.

If someone had just sat down in their board room, thinking that is the strategy. It won’t cause event a dent into DJI’s market share. They’ve got everything covered, consumer drones, prosumer and the professional market, agriculture, thermal, LIDAR inspection…and it won’t be long before they may easily start meddling with markets Sony is actually doing well. The consumer camera market perhaps. DJI are making cameras anyway. They are making gimbals with the likes of Osmo. “Partnering” Hasselblad no less. DJI has a board seat on Hasselblad.

Sony does have a track record of being daring. They had the AIBO, memory stick, minidisc… they failed but it did move innovation forward with these. They took a step back and relooked at the whole mirrorless, fullframe camera and see how they are leading the market now with established brands playing catch up now.

We hope to see more competition for sure. It drives prices down and force companies to innovate.

DJI in Singapore – give up already please.

There seem to be a new Repair Center in Singapore.

Saw this when i was about to send in the Smart Controller for the mavic 2 but I refuse to use ANY Singapore based repair center.

After so many past experiences with Singapore authorised centers. I’ll be damn stupid to keep falling for it. The DJI shop in Funan was asking me to get a brand new Mavic 2 controller when the side USB charging port was faulty. it was out of warranty so heck, I gave a 3rd party repair shop a try. It was $30.00. A brand new Mavic 2 controller was about $500 SGD when he told me to get a new one.

And yeah, I totally don’t believe any shit DJI Support tells me about my feedback that will be cascaded to the relevant department. Trust me, nothing is done.

Just get my case logged, let me send it back to Hong Kong and you just do your job of repairing it and STFU.