Unauthorised drone flying caused a second spate of delays and flight diversions in less than a week at Singapore Changi Airport (SIN) on Monday night, the city-state’s aviation authority says.
Nearly 18 departures and arrivals were delayed and seven flights were diverted from what is one of Asia’s busiest hubs due to “bad weather and unauthorised drone activities”, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) said in a statement on Tuesday.
A similar incident involving drone flying affected 38 flights on Tuesday and Wednesday last week. The CAAS confirmed sightings of drone flying in the vicinity of Changi Airport on 18 and 19 June.
“To ensure the safety of aircraft operations and passengers, the operations of one runway were suspended for short periods of time between 11pm on 18 June and 9am on 19 June. Changi Airport continued to operate with one runway while operations on the other runway were suspended,” the CAAS says.
In total, it says 37 scheduled departure and arrival flights were delayed and one arrival flight was diverted to Kuala Lumpur.
A multi-agency team including the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, Changi Airport Group, Singapore Armed Forces and the Singapore Police Force was activated to search and locate the drone. It’s unknown if the drone was located with the CAAS saying investigations are ongoing.
It is against the law in Singapore to fly a drone within 5km of an airport without a permit with offenders potentially facing a fine not exceeding SGD 20,000 (USD 14,800) or imprisonment for a term of up to 12 months, or both.
A surge in the availability of drones at affordable prices has become an increasing security and safety concern for airports around the world.
In December, drone sightings caused three days of travel chaos at London’s Gatwick airport, resulting in the cancellation or diversion of about 1,000 flights at an estimated cost of more than GBP 50 million (USD 64 million).