NSF fined $2,500 for flying drone in NDP restricted area

Wan Ting Koh
Reporter
A DJI Mavic Drone flies in a field (Yahoo News Singapore file photo)

SINGAPORE — A full-time national serviceman who flew a drone near the National Day Parade was fined $2,500 on Tuesday (18 February), in the first case of its kind.

Tan Jin Kang, 21, had told the District Judge Christopher Goh that he had not known flying drones was not permitted, He added that the red signs around the parade venue were not clearly visible amid the crowds, who were also clad in red.

Mitigating for himself on Tuesday, Tan apologised for what he had done and said he reflected on his actions.

Tan, who is a security trooper with the Singapore Armed Forces, stumbled over his words during his mitigation, and was asked by the judge to take his time to think over his words. 

“I deeply regretted my actions and I am ready to face my consequences no matter what. I am hoping that you will be lenient in my case and I hope I get a second chance... on my part I will ensure I will not make this mistake again,” he said. 

In sentencing Tan, DJ Goh said that his culpability was not high, but that the sentence needed to “make a statement” that people should think twice due to “untoward consequences” of their actions. 

Flying drone near Singapore Flyer

On National Day last year, Tan had flown his drone, weighing 905 grams, for up to a distance of about 10.8 metres for about 45 seconds in the designated special event area. The drone had a width of 9.5 inches (24 centimetres), a length of 12.7 inches and a height of 3.3 inches.

A police officer who had been on National Day patrol duty around the Singapore Flyer spotted the grey drone flying at the Flyer’s main jetty area, some 50 metres away from him. 

The drone was making its descent to a spot along Raffles Avenue, in front of the Flyer. When the officer walked over, he saw Tan using a controller to operate the drone. The officer then asked Tan to stop what he was doing and to produce his particulars. 

Further checks revealed that the drone had a camera attached. However, Tan had not used the camera, as he had been only running a test flight. Tan said that had intended to use the drone later that night to take video footage of the fireworks.

The area where Tan had been flying the drone at had been declared as a special event area under the Public Order Act for the National Day Parade. Tan’s drone is prohibited for the event.

According to the prosecution, there had been numerous signboards placed in the vicinity stating that flying or possession of any unmanned aerial vehicles was not allowed. There were two such signboards near where Tan had been found operating his drone.

The prosecution had asked for a fine of $4,000. For his charge, Tan could have been jailed up to a year and/or fined up to $20,000.

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