Assoc Prof Daniel Goh Pei Siong asked the Minister for Transport (a) how many accidents involving unmanned aircraft weighing 7 kg or less have been reported in the last year; (b) whether such aircraft are allowed to fly close to or above residential estates; and (c) whether a few open areas around the island could be equipped with a short runway and designated as special flying parks for enthusiasts.
Mr Khaw Boon Wan: We are a small, densely populated country with limited airspace. Our approach is to facilitate unmanned aircraft operations as much as possible, while ensuring safety for everyone.
Operations of unmanned aircraft near and over residential estates may be allowed, depending on the nature of operations and the proximity of the estate to restricted areas, such as civilian and military aerodromes, and security-sensitive locations.
Operators must obtain the necessary permits from CAAS if such flying is conducted in the course of business, within 5 km of an aerodrome, at an altitude higher than 200 ft above mean sea level, in a restricted area, or if the total weight of the unmanned aircraft is over 7 kg.
Regardless whether a permit is required, all operators, including recreational users, are responsible for operating their unmanned aircraft in a manner which does not endanger the safety of any person, aircraft or property. They must also respect the privacy of others. CAAS has published guidelines for operators of unmanned aircraft.
In the last year, the Government received one report of a remote control aeroplane that damaged the roof of a housing block in Bishan. The operator could not be located.
CAAS, together with the relevant agencies, will continue to monitor unmanned aircraft activities closely and adjust the regulations as needed.
Given Singapore’s land constraints, promoting the shared use of space for recreational activities, including flying an unmanned aircraft, rather than designating areas as special flying parks, is the preferred approach. Recreational users are known to frequent a few open areas, such as Marina Barrage and an open field at Old Holland Road.