25 flights affected by unauthorized drones at Changi Airport

Changi Airport for the second time in a week was forced to divert flights and delay a number of departures and arrivals last night after unauthorized drones were flown in the area.

Unlike last week’s incidents, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) on its Facebook page said that bad weather conditions had also played a role in what they called the “carefully regulated” nature of arrivals and departures for about an hour starting at 8pm.

In all, seven flights were diverted yesterday evening while 15 departures and three arrivals were delayed.

Authorities are now investigating. Offenders could face as long as a year in jail and a fine of up to S$20,000.

Last week’s incidents involving rogue drones, which took place over Tuesday and Wednesday, saw the delay of 37 scheduled departures and arrivals, with one scheduled arrival diverted to Kuala Lumpur.

The pervasiveness of drones has become an increasing security concern for airports all around the world.

Last December, drone sightings caused three days of turmoil at London’s Gatwick airport and caused the cancellation and diversion of 1,000 flights, affecting nearly 150,000 passengers.

At present, law enforcement officers conduct regular surveillance patrols around Changi Airport and respond to sightings of unauthorized drones, Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min’s told Parliament earlier this year.

In a commentary piece featured on Today yesterday, Tan Teck Boon and Nandhakumar Gunasekaran stressed that Singapore can learn from other countries on how to prevent similar drone incidents from occurring.

One way is to prohibit the flying of consumer drones at night as Japan has done, particularly since drones, when spray-painted black, are practically invisible to the naked eye in night-time conditions.

The duo also recommended following the US’s lead and require drone owners to register their device, regardless of the drone’s weight.

Finally, they suggested imposing stiffer penalties for illegally flying drones. Citing the the UK and US as examples, they said that penalties in Singapore are clearly lower and may not be harsh enough to deter rogue drone operators.

This article, 25 flights affected by unauthorized drones at Changi Airport, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!