How to get Drone License in Singapore? UAPL, UABT and UATO

In Singapore, operating drones above a certain weight (above 7kg) or for commercial reasons requires adherence to regulations set by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS). These regulations mandate the acquisition of a Unmanned Aircraft Pilot License (UAPL) under specific circumstances.

What are UAPL, UATO, and UABT related to drones?

Here are some terms for easy understanding.

  • UA – Unmanned Aircraft (drones are unmanned aircraft)
  • UAPL – UA Pilot License
  • UATO – UA Training Organisation
  • UABT – UA Basic Training
  • AFE – Authorised Flight Examiner
  • CAAS- Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, the government body in charge of regulating drone activities.

When do I need a license to fly drones? When do I need UAPL / UABT?

In short, you may need a UAPL (which is from passing UABT and a practical assessment by AFE from a UATO) if you are flying drones for commercial reasons; or if you flying recreationally but with drones above 7kg.

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The necessity for a UAPL arises in two main scenarios:

  1. Commercial Operations: Individuals intending to use drones for commercial purposes, irrespective of their weight, must obtain a UAPL.
  2. Recreational or Educational Use with UA Exceeding 7kg: Even for recreational or educational purposes, if the UA’s weight exceeds 7kg, a UAPL is mandatory.

Qualifying for a UAPL

Acquiring a UAPL involves meeting certain criteria:

  1. Theory Test: Prospective operators need to pass a theory test administered by the CAAS.
  2. Practical Assessment: A practical assessment, conducted by an Authorised Flight Examiner (AFE) within a UA Training and Assessment Organisation (UATO), is required.
  3. Minimum Age Requirement: Applicants must be at least 16 years old to apply for a UAPL.

Ensuring Compliance with Drone Laws in Singapore

Compliance with UAPL regulations is crucial. Failure to comply may result in severe penalties:

  • For a first offence, fines can go up to $50,000, with the possibility of imprisonment for up to 2 years.
  • Subsequent offences carry harsher penalties, with fines up to $100,000 and imprisonment for up to 5 years.
  • Failure to produce required documents during verification checks can lead to fines up to $20,000 for a first offence and up to $40,000, or imprisonment for up to 15 months, for subsequent offences.

Do you need a license to fly drones in Singapore if just for fun?

If you are flying your drone for leisure, and your drone is below 7kg, there is no need to apply for a license or activity permit for drones.

You do not even need to register your drone if it is 249 grams and below. For more specific details, check out this article on when you need to register drones and when you need permits or license.

Preparing for UAPL

Prospective operators can prepare for the UAPL process by attending classes conducted by UA Training and Assessment Organisations (UATOs).

These organizations are approved by the CAAS and assist individuals in preparing for both the UA Basic Theory test sign-up and practical assessment. Once you are qualified in both, you can visit CAAS here to apply for UAPL.

Besides UATOs, you can also learn and improve your skill sets (an analogy would be a driver taking more lessons to drive before going for TP tests) with other drone lessons.

We would suggest Skillsfuture-accredited courses such as UAPL-Prep Drones and Aerial Surveillance course or this Aerial Drone Photography and Videography course. We recommend these as they are government subsidized if you are Singaporean and can use your Skillsfuture credits for the course fee.

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