Chinese tourist probed by Taiwan police over drone

Chinese tourist probed by Taiwan police over drone
PHOTO: TRANSASIA AIRWAYS

TAIPEI - A Chinese drone user, surnamed Yang, was interrogated by Xinyi police yesterday afternoon, with officers wanting to look at the tourist's mobile devices.

Yang could face a fine of between NT$300,000 (S$13,100) and NT$1.5 million.

In response to a video of an unmanned aerial vehicle hitting the southeast side of Taipei 101 that went viral on the July 21, National Communications Commission (NCC) spokesperson Yu Hsaio-cheng said yesterday that the NCC only certifies the power format of drones and their remote frequency to see if they exceed regulations.

The drone smashed into Taipei 101 and crashed on Tuesday morning. The 28-year-old tourist from China later approached a 101 guard and apologised. As no one was injured and the building's glass suffered little damage, Yang was let go. Nonetheless, Taipei 101 reserves the right to prosecute in the future.

"The drone itself and its flight management are not the NCC's responsibility," said Yu.

He continued to explain that existing remote-controlled planes as well as unmanned aerial vehicles use Wi-Fi and license-free frequencies with a frequency range of 2.4 to 2.4835MHz and have a power range under 1W. The NCC only ensures that the operation frequency and power range of the abovementioned drones and receivers are within regulations; other guidelines and controls should be followed according to the Civil Aviation Law.

According to the 34th act of the current Civil Aviation Law, no racing pigeons are to be raised or allowed to fly near airports; other objects that might threaten flight safety are also restricted, including remote-control airplanes.

The Bureau of Standards, Metrology and Inspection also stressed that, currently, there are no related regulations to restrict products like drones. The bureau focuses on "product safety" and not "usage," therefore it does not consider drone management to be part of its duties. If anything, the responsibility belongs to the NCC or the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, said the bureau.

According to the Civil Aeronautics Administration, current regulations for unmanned aerial vehicles only extend to places of usage; however, related administrations and ministries will gather to coordinate in August to set up new rules by the end of next year.

A statement released by Taipei 101 said that there were three drone crashes around the skyscraper between mid-June and now, on June 15, June 20 and July 21. No injuries were reported, though one crashed less than 2 meters from pedestrians. Taipei 101 immediately reported the incident to police after discovering the crashed objects.

Taipei 101 spokesman Michael Liu said that usually guards will reinforce patrols when people are using drones in the Taipei 101 area, but it is out of Taipei 101's control if they take off from other places.

Liu said it is less of a problem that the building is hit, but is a critical issue if a drone smashes a window or injures a person.

Therefore he also called on the government to regulate unmanned aerial vehicles as soon as possible and limit their flight routes.

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