20 illegal drone intrusions into Changi Airport airspace in last 3 months: Teo Chee Hean

Singapore

SINGAPORE: There have been 20 cases of illegal drone intrusions into the restricted airspace around Changi Airport in the last three months, Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean said on Monday (Nov 23).

Speaking during a visit to Changi Airport, Mr Teo said the people allegedly involved in the cases have been “apprehended”.

In response to CNA’s queries, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) said the 20 operators were apprehended for operating drones without requisite permits within 5km of Changi Airport, including Pulau Ubin, Changi Coastal Path, Pasir Ris Park, Bedok Reservoir and Tanah Merah.

“Ground patrol forces have been stepped up to look out for errant (unmanned aircraft) operators island-wide, with a focus on identified hotspots,” said CAAS.


Drone frequency jammer Changi Airport

A radio frequency jammer that can disrupt a drone’s controls and take it down. (Photo: Jeraldine Yap)

Majority of offences involve the operation of drones without the requisite permits, while a smaller number of offences include not complying with registration requirements, the authority added.

As of Nov 5, there were 300 valid operator permit holders, said the authority.

NO FLIGHTS DISRUPTED SINCE JULY LAST YEAR

No flights have been disrupted because of illegal drone intrusions since July last year, said Mr Teo, who is also Coordinating Minister for National Security.

On Jun 19 last year, 38 flights were affected after Changi Airport was forced to close one runway because of drone sightings in the vicinity of the airport.

A few days later, bad weather and unauthorised drone activities caused more flight delays and diversions.

The CAAS, together with other agencies, have put together a team to bring forward plans to detect and deal with drones in Changi Airport, said Mr Teo.

These capabilities, which include “specialised radars”, are able to better detect and disrupt errant drone operations, said CAAS.


Radar that detects drones at Changi Airport

A radar that detects drones flying in the area. (Photo: Jeraldine Yap)

“Today, we have developed quite reasonable capability. But this is a very challenging area, and continues to evolve very rapidly, because drone technology is moving very, very fast,” said Mr Teo.

Many airports around the world are “trying and testing methods” to stop illegal drone intrusions, he added.

“We hope that we don’t need to catch anyone. In fact, CAAS has been engaging the drone community, both recreational users, as well as the professional users to facilitate the use of drones in a safe manner,” the senior minister said.

He also urged drone operators to check the CAAS website to see where they can operate drones legally and safely.

Additional reporting by Jeraldine Yap.

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