SINGAPORE: The Unmanned Aircraft Systems Advisory Panel has recommended all drones above 250g to be registered before operating in Singapore, adding that registration costs should not exceed S$20.
The registration regime should cover commercial and self-assembled drones including multi-rotors, helicopters and aeroplanes, as well as those operated by tourists and foreigners, it said.
It also proposed that drones be operated independently only by those aged 16 and above.
The panel submitted its recommendations to Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min on Tuesday (Aug 27).
Dr Lam wrote in a Facebook post on Tuesday that the Government will study the recommendations carefully and announce implementation details of the mandatory registration regime “in due course”.
This comes after he told Parliament in July that all drones operating in Singapore will have to be registered by the end of this year.
"This will ensure that drone operators are made aware of their responsibilities and undertake to conduct their activities in a responsible manner," he had said.
The 12-member advisory panel said the registration regime should cover drones with a total take-off weight of above 250g to strike a balance between safety and practicality.
It also pointed to a scientific study conducted by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and Nanyang Technological University which showed that drones above 250g falling on a person’s head would result in "serious injury".
In addition, the panel said registered drones should be identifiable and traceable, noting that one possible way would be fixing a tamper-proof sticker to the drone upon registration. This is similar to how e-scooters are registered in Singapore.
"The registered unmanned aircraft should be able to be traced to a registrant to facilitate investigations if the need arises," it added.
On Jun 24, bad weather and unauthorised drone activity near Changi Airport delayed 15 departing flights and three arriving flights, and caused another seven flights to be diverted.
The incident came just days after Changi Airport was forced to intermittently close one runway on Jun 18 due to drone sightings in the vicinity, affecting a total of 38 flights.
Police investigations into both incidents are still ongoing.
HOW TO REGISTER?
When it comes to registration, the panel said the process should be easy and convenient, proposing that authorities provide different methods of registration, including online.
It also noted the need for affordability, especially for those with multiple drones, and recommended that fees should not exceed S$20, referencing the cost of registering drones around the world and e-scooters in Singapore.
The panel acknowledged that operators should be given time to comply with the new regulations, and recommended a three-month grace period for registration, after which “effective enforcement” should take place.
“We are mindful of the urgency for enforcement of the registration regime to be effected,” it added. “CAAS should also consider partnering hobbyist clubs and training organisations to encourage registration.”
The panel recommended that registrants should be at least 16 years old to ensure they are of “sufficient maturity” given the potential consequences of errant flying, adding that this benchmark continues to allow drones to be flown at tertiary institutions for educational purposes.
“Persons below 16 years of age should only be allowed to fly unmanned aircraft under adult supervision,” it stated.
Dr Lam said the panel, led by veteran pilot Timothy De Souza, sat down with some 150 industry representatives, hobbyists and experts over the past three months to “hear everyone out” and discuss which regulations need to be updated.
He had appointed the panel in May to review the regulatory framework and make recommendations.
“I am heartened to read of the panel’s support for mandatory drone registration to forge responsible use and accountability among the drone community,” he wrote.