An On-Campus Drone Photo Was Taken by a Student and Fined $3,500

An On-Campus Drone Photo Was Taken by a Student and Fined $3,500
An On-Campus Drone Photo Was Taken by a Student and Fined $3,500

A Chinese student at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore has been fined $3,500 for taking drone photos and videos of his girlfriend.

The drone used by 25-year-old Xu Zi Zhou to photograph his girlfriend in NTU’s Yunnan Garden on June 1, 2021 was intercepted by Singapore’s Civil Aviation Authority.

The drone appeared on CAAS's radar when it entered the airspace around the heritage park where Xu was flying. The DJI AeroScope drone detection platform identified the drone and its location.

Officials were dispatched to the Yunnan Garden to catch the drone operator and get the aircraft to land. They found that Xu had flown the drone five times that day, with a total flight time of 18 minutes. This created a serious safety hazard, and Xu was arrested and charged with operating a drone without a license.

Singapore requires a Class 2 Activity Permit for all outdoor drone activity if the aircraft weighs less than 25 kg and is to be used for recreational purposes. The same permit is also applicable when a drone is to be flown higher than 200 feet above mean sea level or within 5 km of any civil aerodrome or military airbase.

Xu had not applied for the permit, a violation which could have cost him jail time of up to two years, a fine of up to $35,000, or both.

The case against Xu came to a head last week, when he pleaded guilty to flouting drone regulations. This landed him a $3,500 fine - a slap on the wrist compared to what he could have faced.

Interestingly, the promotional video of the Yunnan Garden that NTU has posted on its YouTube channel is also taken by a drone. But the university would have naturally applied for a permit before capturing the footage, which means they were likely given special permission to film.

Just weeks after a Singaporean man was fined $37,000 for flying a DJI Mavic 2 Zoom near the Tengah airbase, the NTU case comes to light. In the previous case, the drone was found to be directly within the flight path of the runway, because of which two incoming military aircraft had to be rerouted.

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