Singapore Changi Airport closed one of two runways for 10 hours after a drone was sighted in the vicinity on the night of June 18 through the morning of June 19.

As a precautionary measure, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) closed runway 20R, which affected the delay of 37 departures and arrivals, including one that was diverted to Kuala Lumpur.

The author was on one of the affected flights when the Cathay Pacific flight was instructed to hold over Malaysia for an additional 20 min. before landing at the functioning runway 20L.

This is Changi’s first major flight disruption as a result of errant drones, and comes after similar incidents in London Gatwick and Dubai airports.

“The authorities take a serious view of errant operations of unmanned aircraft, which may pose threats to aviation or endanger the personal safety of others and will not hesitate to take enforcement action against those who contravene regulations,” CAAS said in a statement. 

A team—consisting of CAAS, Changi Airport Group, the Singapore Armed Forces and the police—has 5been activated for search and locate operations. The Republic of Singapore Air Force in particular, has developed drone detection and jamming systems to counter such threats. 

Under the Unmanned Aircraft (Public Safety and Security) Act, it is illegal to fly a drone without a permit within 5km (3.1 mi.) of airports or military airbases, or at altitudes above 200 ft. Those found guilty of violating these regulations could be fined up to SGD20,000 ($14,605) or up to 12 months in jail, or both.

Chen Chuanren, chuanren@purplelightvisuals.com