Read This Before You Fly A Drone!

New drone laws are being enforced in Singapore and here is what you need to know

No longer exclusive to the military, drones are now flown by hobbyists and film makers alike. With the drone community growing in all parts of the globe, so have the number of mishaps, pranks and security infringements.

Take for an example, in January a drone which landed on the lawn of one of the most protected areas in the world, the White House in America. Another example a little closer to Asia, would be that a drone landed on the roof of Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s office carrying chemicals in April this year. Although the chemicals it carried were not potentially hazardous, it only goes to show that drones of any size can be a potential threat.

In keeping up with the growing number of drone operators and the increase of pranks and security infringements taking place internationally, a Bill has been passed in Singapore to enforce restrictive laws on drones – effective 1st June 2015.

Here’s the essential four rules to live by to steer clear of drone-trouble.

1. Altitude and Weight Restrictions

Generally the news affect more commercial drones rather than hobbyist. For drone hobbyist, this might not be affecting you as much as those who utilise drones commercially. The new law states that in order to fly a drone higher than 61m above mean sea level and commercial purposes require a permit granted from the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS).

Aside from just restricting the altitude, operators need a permit if they are flying a drone that weighs more than 7kg. This will most likely only apply to those flying the drone for commercial purposes as most have cameras or additional gadgets attached – whereas drones flown by hobbyist do not.


2. No Fly Zones

The Singapore government will release a detailed list of restricted areas that a drone is not allowed to fly without a permit - these locations would include airports, army camps and Istana (official residence of the President of the Republic of Singapore). A detailed list is expected to be published closer to the date of the law being enforced. In addition, as there is a possibility of drones losing its signal when in flight due to interference from other signals, drones are banned within a 5km radius from any aerodromes in Singapore.


3. Flying a Drone for a Special Event

As with all the other new rulings, a permit needs to be obtained from the CAAS. This includes those flying a drone equipped with a camera for an outdoor wedding photo shoot or for any personal recreational purposes.


4. If You Break It, You Pay It

The laws will be effective in Singapore from 1 st June 2015 onwards. Penalties for breaching any of the regulations carry a maximum fine of S$20 000, a jail time of one year or both. However, stiffer penalties will be enforced if a drone is found to carry dangerous items like weapons or chemicals – this would then carry a fine of up to S$100 000 and a jail term of up to five years.


In general, most laws will not apply to hobbyists but more for those who are either extreme drone hobbyists or those who utilise drones for commercial purposes. These bigger drones pose a safety threat when they lose their signal and make a crash landing. Just remember these simple four pointers when thinking about purchasing a drone or flying one in Singapore to remain clear of drone-trouble!



By Geralyne Kaye Ong / May 19, 2015 4:30PM GMT+8


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