The Ministry of Transport is proposing a new set of laws which will impose a set of regulations on those seeking to fly unmanned aircraft — popularly referred to as drones. If passed, these regulations will take effect from June.

Drones have become popular in goods delivery, search and rescue operations and aerial filming in recent years. According to the Unmanned Aircraft (Public Safety and Security) Bill introduced in Parliament today, a permit will be required to operate an unmanned aircraft if it weighs more than 7kg, if it flies within 5km of an aerodrome, or within restricted areas.

The proposed rules will also prohibit a drone from carrying dangerous materials, such as weapons and any biochemical or radioactive material, and prohibiting discharge of substances without permit.

“Despite the safety features in some unmaned aircraft, mechnical malfunction, loss of control link or human error could cause operators to lose control of the aircraft in flight … Unmanned aircraft crashing or discharging its payload could cause injury to persons or even death and damage to property,” said the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and the Singapore Police Force (SPF) today.

If passed, the laws will also prohibit drones from flying over “special event areas” where major events are held — such as certain venues of the upcoming Southeast Asian Games — without a permit.

By June 1, prospective operators will be able to submit their applications for all permits through CAAS’ online system.

The CAAS and SPF said that these enhancements are “interim steps” to address immediate safety and security issues concerning drones, pending the Government’s ongoing study of an appropriate framework to facilitate and promote their use for public and commerical purposes.

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