- The Union Civil Aviation Ministry has released the draft of the national drone policy, making it significantly easier for people and companies to own and operate drones, while also streamlining the certification process for manufacturers, importers and users.
Draft Drone Rules 2021
- The current draft of national drone policy will soon replace the UAS (unmanned aircraft system) Rules 2021 that was released on 12 March 2021.
- According to the draft Drone Rules 2021, operating drones without a unique identification number will not be allowed, unless exempted.
- Drone operators will have to generate a unique identification number of a drone by providing requisite details on the digital sky platform.
- It also has safety features such real-time tracking beacon, and geo-fencing, which are expected to be notified in future and a six-month lead time will be provided for compliance.
- An interactive airspace map with green, yellow, and red zones will be displayed on the digital sky platform.
- While the yellow zone has been reduced from 45 km to 12 km from nearby airport perimeter, no flight permission is required up to 400 feet in green zones and up to 200 feet in the area between 8 and 12 km from the airport perimeter.
- No pilot licence will be required for micro drones used for non-commercial use, nano drones and for research and development (R&D) organizations operating such drones.
- There will be no restriction on drone operations by foreign-owned companies registered in India.
- Import of drones and drone components will be regulated by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT).
- Security clearance will not be required before any registration or licence issuance.
- Easier process prescribed for transfer and deregistration of drones.
- All drone training and testing to be carried out by an authorised drone school. DGCA shall prescribe training requirements, oversee drone schools and provide pilot licences online.
- No requirement of certificate of airworthiness, unique identification number, prior permission and remote pilot licence for R&D entities.
- Approvals abolished: unique authorisation number, unique prototype identification number, certificate of conformance, certificate of maintenance, import clearance, acceptance of existing drones, operator permit, authorisation of R&D organisation, student remote pilot licence, remote pilot instructor authorisation, drone port authorisation etc.
- The Ministry of Civil Aviation will also facilitate development of drone corridors for cargo deliveries and a drone promotion council will be set up to facilitate a business-friendly regulatory regime.
Air space has been partitioned into
- Green Zone (automatic permission)
- It means the airspace from the ground up to a vertical distance of 400 feet (120 metre) above ground level (AGL) that has not been designated as a red zone or yellow zone in the airspace map for drone operations
- The airspace from the ground up to a vertical distance of 200 feet (60 metre) AGL in the area located between a lateral distance of 8 kilometre and 12 kilometre from the perimeter of an operational airport.
- The provisions of the yellow zone shall also apply.
- Yellow Zone (controlled Airspace)
- It means the controlled airspace of defined dimensions above the land areas or territorial waters of India within which drone operations are restricted and shall require permission from the concerned air traffic control authority.
- Red Zone (Flying not permitted)
- It means the airspace of defined dimensions, above the land areas or territorial waters of India, or any installation or notified port limits specified by the Central Government beyond the territorial waters of India; within which drone operations shall be permitted only under exceptional circumstances by the Central Government.
Classification of drones
Drones shall be classified based upon the maximum all-up weight including payload as under (a) Nano drone: Less than or equal to 250 gram;
(b) Micro drone: Greater than 250 gram and less than or equal to 2 kilogram;
(c) Small drone: Greater than 2 kilogram and less than or equal to 25 kilogram;
(d) Medium drone: Greater than 25 kilogram and less than or equal to 150 kilogram;
(e) Large drone: Greater than 150 kilogram.
Digital Sky Platform
- Digital sky platform is an initiative by MoCA to provide a secure and a scalable platform that supports drone technology frameworks, such as NPNT (no permission, no take-off), designed to enable flight permission digitally and managing unmanned aircraft operations and traffic efficiently.
Areas identified for application of Drone Technology
- Agriculture and allied activities
- Logistics sector
- Entertainment Industry
- Law enforcement agencies
- Disaster management
- Railways for track monitoring
- Telecom sector for monitoring of towers
- Defence sector
- Healthcare services