Amazing Singapore – Court gives pilot tap in the wrist for flying into Singapore AirSpace
Australian pilot fined for intrusion into Singapore airspace
By Satish Cheney, Channel NewsAsia | Posted: 01 April 2008 1852 hrs
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Changi Airport Control Tower
SINGAPORE: An Australian pilot has been fined S$5,000 for flying into Singapore “without a valid certificate of airworthiness”.
59-year-old Rhys Henry Thomas, who had pleaded guilty to the offence which took place on 22 January this year, could have been jailed for a year.
On that day, his Cessna plane entered Singapore’s airspace and caused two Air Force fighter jets to intercept his aircraft, which was eventually escorted to Changi Airport.
The incident caused security fears and delayed flights for 50 minutes.
In passing the sentence, District Judge Danielle Yeow said the experienced pilot should have known better than to fly to Singapore without the right paperwork.
She added that it is important to strike a balance between the interest of the public and the principle that offenders should not be punished beyond what they deserve.
The court also noted that the pilot did not have any malicious intent and that he had fully cooperated with investigations.
Mr Thomas said he has spent some S$60,000 on expenses so far, while being grounded in Singapore, so the sentence came as a huge relief.
He said: “I’m looking forward to flying off to Sydney tonight to see my mother. She’s had a heart attack. I attempted bail a couple of times to go down and see her… but it’s going to be good to get down there. I’ll be down there tomorrow morning.”
Judge Yeow said the safety of air navigation in Singapore should not be taken lightly, especially with Singapore’s limited air space and the dense population here.
She also said that the court, in future, will not hesitate to impose a jail term where appropriate.