A drone is like a flying remote control toy car. They come in various sizes. One that is as small as the “Mini cooper Toy Car“. Another is as big as the “Hot Wheels Monster Truck“. But of course, I am talking about flying which means this invention has wings.
One may wonder.
If you can remotely control and fly a compact device in the air. Not to mention that you have an advanced remote control installed with a Global Positioning System (GPS). So what else can you do? Well, there are tons of things to do!
Attach a love letter onto the drone then pilot it to your love? Tie a Maggi instant noodle packet to send to your best friend. When you end up in dark places and you would rather not walk into that path. Hang a lantern on a drone and fly it ahead. (Unless the drone already has a torch light feature) It will light up the path ahead of you.
How about attaching a light weight wireless mini camera onto a drone? Get an aerial view. Some of these drones already come with inbuilt camera. The film industry has already been using drones ever since they could get their hands on it. It is much cheaper as compared to hiring a pilot and a helicopter.
Recently I came across an article about Domino’s, the popular the pizza company. It has put a good fraction of its budget into starting drone delivery for it’s pizza orders.
These are some crazy possible examples which are already being experimented in many parts of the world.
But why isn’t Singapore encouraging drone proliferation and usage here? Actually that is incorrect. You can fly drones in Singapore but you’d need a permit for it.
Everything about the pilot and the drone has to be documented. During the application process, some of the questions would be –
- Who is the owner of the drone?
- What is the purpose of the drone’s flight?
- Where it will fly and for how long?
- What will the footage be used for?
- Be prepared to anticipate more questions.
If you want the permit, you have to apply it with the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) who would advise you on your eligibility to get clearance from the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF).
From what i have learnt, there are only selected parts of Singapore where you may fly the drones. Every application is ALWAYS subjected to approval.
So my inner voice argued with me: Why is there so much of hassle just to fly a drone? I have seen people freely flying kites on Marina Barrage and that’s not a problem?
Well, you see, firstly, kites are not exactly electric devices. In order to fly it, you would automatically end up in a non obstructed open and windy space. Also the worst that could happen from a kite crash is that it will get stuck into something.
Whereas if a powerful drone crashes into something, it could potentially explode into pieces, with shrapnel everywhere. Watch this video about a drone crash incident –
Let’s say that you are confident that with your piloting skills, the drone will not crash at all.
Did you know that your drone can appear on the radar system for the RSAF?
The organization tracks everything in the air that could be a possible “Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)“. Keeping an eye on the air above Singapore is part of the military efforts so it stands to reason they’d want to clear.
Not only that, if drones are allowed, the enemy could use drones with cameras to spy on us.
Espionage would be on an unprecedented level; there’d be nowhere to hide, sensitive installations would be exposed much easily and movement of VIPs would be exposed. Forget about ensuring the protection of local ministers, imagine the havoc that would create on efforts to protect visiting foreign leaders.
If the law of getting a permit to fly is not implemented, crime rate would potentially increase too. Identity theft is already a major threat now, imagine with drones hovering around.
One could conceivable record you entering your password for your accounts. Stalking and even voyeuristic behaviour will undoubtedly plague us. Being a public nuisance would just be the tip of the whole iceberg.
This is what happened recently with a 21 year old guy who is currently a part-time food delivery rider, Homen Wong.
He had freely flown the drone over paths where people were walking. He flew the drone right in front of an oncoming train and lost control. The flight ended in a terrible crash. Initially he was fined SGD$20,000. After much appealing and pleading, the amount was whittled down to SGD$5,000.
Like seriously, was it worth it? Not at all.
Another recent incident, involved a 21 year old full time National Service man. He flew a drone around Singapore Flyer during the National Day Parade.
Despite notices posted clearly around the area, Tan Jin Kang still stupidly persisted in flying his drone. His (incredibly) stupid argument was that he was unaware of this law. Unless he’s illiterate and/or blind, the notices would have been a major tip-off to this. That excuse simply does not (pardon the upcoming pun) fly.
In Singapore, the lawful punishment for flying a drone without permit is going to jail for up to a year and being fined SGD$20,000.
So look, in Singapore, if you have a drone and wish to fly it (be it for recreational or commercial use)?
Please apply for a permit and/or license first.
Of course, if curiosity about drones is making you restless?
Travel to other parts of the world that are more lenient and drone-friendly. Forget Singapore. Just pack your bags and set out to practice your pilot skills where it is easier.