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Man fined S$2,000 for flying drone near Paya Lebar Air Base without permit

SINGAPORE — Stiff fines are needed as a deterrent against illegal drone-flying here, said a district judge on Monday (Nov 4), as he ordered a 37-year-old man to pay a S$2,000 penalty for doing so.

Ed Chen Junyuan, who illegally flew a 357g DBPower FPV drone at an open field in Punggol, is the first person to be penalised here for such an offence.

Ed Chen Junyuan, who illegally flew a 357g DBPower FPV drone at an open field in Punggol, is the first person to be penalised here for such an offence.

SINGAPORE — Stiff fines are needed as a deterrent against illegal drone-flying here, said a district judge on Monday (Nov 4), as he ordered a 37-year-old man to pay a S$2,000 penalty for doing so.

The man, Ed Chen Junyuan, is the first person to be penalised here for such an offence. He and his friend, Tay Miow Seng, 40, were charged in July this year for flying drones without a permit within 5km of an airbase. Tay’s case is still pending.

Chen pleaded guilty last month to one charge under the Air Navigation Order, which carries a maximum fine of S$20,000. Repeat offenders can be jailed for up to 15 months, fined up to S$40,000, or both. 

He had flown his 357g DBPower FPV drone at an open field in Punggol for recreational purposes earlier this year, about 1.7km from the Paya Lebar Air Base. He did not have a Class 2 activity permit to do so. 

District Judge Ng Cheng Thiam said on Monday that a message needed to be sent to the public so that they would not commit such offences lightly, but noted that there was no malice, or intended or potential harm, on Chen’s part.

The court heard that on June 26 this year, Chen asked Tay to teach him how to operate the drone, which he had just bought online.

The duo met at the open field near 128C Punggol Field Walk, just opposite Chen’s home, at about 9pm later that day.

Chen flew his drone for about five to six minutes, and it reached a maximum height of about two storeys. Tay also brought his 430g DJI drone along and flew it at the same time.

They continued doing this until the batteries went flat and the drones were grounded. Shortly after that, an off-duty officer with the Republic of Singapore Air Force, who worked at Paya Lebar Air Base, arrived at the field.

The officer had received an alert broadcast to all airbase staff about a drone being sighted in the vicinity.

He drove towards the location and saw blinking lights at the field, so he hurried over and caught the pair.

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