Lovers of drones and model aircrafts can soon fly their gadgets safely at designated public spaces, after the Ministry of Transport (MOT) accepted a panel’s recommendation to provide common flying spaces to increase interest in the activity.
MOT’s accepted the recommendations after nearly two months since they were suggested by the unmanned aircraft (UA) systems advisory panel appointed by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore in 2019.
Minister for Transport Ong Ye Kung said on Friday (15 January) that other details like how much spaces will be created and its locations will be furnished in the coming months.
“Ministry of Transport, Singapore supports and accepts the Panel’s recommendations. More details will be announced in the coming months,” said Mr Ong in a Facebook post.
According to the panel’s report dated 18 November 2020, it was noted that setting up these common areas will allow recreational drone enthusiasts to come together and “foster a culture of safety among the community”.
It added that these new permitted flying areas will also offer users the assurance that they can safely fly their drones at these designated locations.
The flying areas have to meet several criteria, the panel recommended.
Some of the criteria include that drone users should not intrude on the safety of other air space users like commercial airplanes, a set of safety guidelines for these flying areas must be in place, and operation of the sites must pay attention to the concerns of the general public.
If that’s not all, the areas should also be big enough to accommodate different users so they can fly their drones safely, put in place charging points and proper lighting, as well as keep it affordable for users.
The panel explained that the operation of these areas should also be financially sustainable in order for it to operate for a long time.
The panel also cited designated flying areas set up by different countries like the United States, Japan and South Korea. For instance, the Hangang Drone Park in Seoul covers a span of 27,000 sq m flying field within Gawngnaru Hangang Park, and it a space specifically meant for drone flying.
To ensure the safety of users, the drones must also be lighter than 12kg, and there is a limit on the number of drones that can be flown at any specific time.
Additionally, users should also be able to see their drones at all times and is prohibited to fly their gadget directly above people.
“We propose that UA flying areas be developed and implemented in a manner that is suited to Singapore’s context,” the report stated.
It added, “Based on a scan of UA flying areas across the world, we note that UA flying areas could range from sites that are for co-use to sites that are exclusive-use; site which are rented for a few hours to sites that are set aside for UA operations on a longer-term basis. Some are community-initiated while others are government-led.”
The proposal to develop flying areas is the second and final set of recommendations made by the panel to the Ministry.
In August 2020, it suggested that drones should be made traceable and a minimum age of 16 for registration must be set for users.