SINGAPORE – A Malaysia-registered civilian helicopter, which mistakenly entered Singapore airspace without authorisation on Aug 9, had “no malicious intent”, said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen in a written reply to a parliamentary question.
Giving details of the incident where two Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) F-16 fighter jets were scrambled to handle the intrusion, Dr Ng said the helicopter had been contracted to take photographs of a Malaysian-registered oil rig that was being transported from Pasir Gudang to Miri, Sarawak.
Ms Joan Pereira (Tanjong Pagar GRC) had asked whether the safety of any aircraft had been compromised at any point during this incident, and what measures will be implemented to prevent similar occurrences in the future.
Dr Ng said: “Our assessment is that there was no malicious intent arising from this incident.”
He said the helicopter flew from Senai Airport in Johor and headed towards Pengerang.
During its flight, the helicopter transited the Changi Control Zone, and subsequently entered Singapore Territorial Airspace without prior notification. The Singapore Air Traffic Control did not receive any flight plan, said Dr Ng.
As the helicopter had entered Singapore’s territorial airspace at 12.37pm “unannounced”, the two fighter jets were scrambled – a response that Dr Ng said was “consistent with our standard operating procedures for unidentified aircraft in our airspace which may pose potential threats”.
Dr Ng said: “The helicopter pilot was instructed to keep clear of Singapore Territorial Airspace and to operate eastwards outside Singapore’s territorial airspace.”