Man fined $9k for flying drone in Punggol open field without permit

A 41-year-old man who flew a drone without permit in an open field in Punggol was fined $9,000 yesterday.

Tay Miow Seng pleaded guilty in the State Courts on Dec 27 last year to flying the drone for recreational purposes at the field within 5km of Paya Lebar Air Base without a valid Class 2 activity permit and operating it in a manner likely to endanger the safety of aircraft.

A separate charge of unlawfully flying his drone within Coney Island on March 26 last year was taken into consideration during sentencing yesterday.

The court had earlier heard that Tay and his friend Ed Chen Junyuan each flew a drone in the open field in Punggol on June 26 last year.

Both were detained on the same day by the police.

They were the first to be charged with unlawfully flying a drone in Singapore.

Chen was convicted and fined $2,000 last year.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore said in a statement yesterday 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”.

It added that it will not hesitate to take enforcement action against operators of unmanned aircraft who contravene regulations.

Penalties for various offences involving unmanned aircraft, such as drones, were raised after Parliament passed amendments to the Air Navigation Act last year.

Those caught flying an unmanned aircraft without a valid permit face a maximum penalty of two years in jail and a $50,000 fine for first-time offenders, and five years in jail and a $100,000 fine for repeat offenders.

Any person who recklessly or knowingly operates an unmanned aircraft in a manner that endangers the life or property of another person can be jailed for up to 10 years, or fined up to $100,000, or both.A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 06, 2020, with the headline ‘Man fined $9k for flying drone in Punggol open field without permit’.