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Regulatory and permit framework for drones to be enhanced

The regulatory and permit framework for unmanned aircraft operations is being strengthened to reduce safety and security risks.

This will kick in from June 1 after the required legislative processes are completed, said the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and Singapore Police Force (SPF) in a joint release.

The Unmanned Aircraft (Public Safety and Security) Bill has been introduced for First Reading in Parliament on Monday, which proposes amendments to the Air Navigation Act (ANA) and Public Order Act to manage public safety and security risks from unmanned aircraft operations.

The Air Navigation Order (ANO), a subsidiary legislation of the ANA, is also being amended.

Among other things, the enhanced framework seeks to prohibit drones from carrying hazardous materials such as weapons, and any bio-chemical or radioactive material. In addition, unmanned aircraft will not be able to discharge any substance without a permit. Permits will also be required to fly or operate an unmanned aircraft that weighs more than 7kg.

Where protected areas are concerned, flying an unmanned aircraft over a security sensitive area or taking photographs from unmanned aircraft will also require a permit.

Penalties would be incurred for offences.

"The enhancements to the regulatory and permit framework and the guidelines are interim steps to address immediate safety and security issues, pending the government's ongoing study of an appropriate framework to facilitate and promote the use of unmanned aircraft for public and commercial purposes, and which will also be able to adequately address safety, security and privacy concerns," the release said.

The Ministry of Transport has been spearheading an inter-agency committee to facilitate this.