llSR, Lucknow has been granted a conditional exemption by The Union Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) and Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for conducting the trials to evaluate drone spraying solution for controlling pest and diseases of sugarcane crop using drones.
The exemption is valid until November 30, 2021 from the date of issue of the permission letter or until the Digital Sky Platform becomes operational, whichever is earlier. This exemption shall be valid only if all conditions and limitations as stated below are strictly adhered to. In case of violation of any condition, this exemption shall become null and void and action may be initiated by MoCA and DGCA.
General Rules for Flying a Drone in India
Based on our research and interpretation of the laws, here are the most important rules to know for flying a drone in India.
- All except those in the Nano category must be registered and issued a Unique Identification Number (UIN).
- A permit is required for commercial drone operations (except for those in the Nano category flown below 50 feet and those in the Micro category flown below 200 feet).
- Pilots must maintain a direct visual line of sight at all times while flying.
- They cannot be flown more than 400 feet vertically.
- Drones cannot be flown in areas specified as “No Fly Zones”, which include areas near airports, international borders, Vijay Chowk in Delhi, State Secretariat Complex in State Capitals, strategic locations, and military installations.
- Permission to fly in controlled airspace can be obtained by filing a flight plan and obtaining a unique Air Defense Clearance (ADC)/Flight Information Center (FIC) number.
IISR to Obtain Clearances
The llSR has been told to obtain necessary clearances from (a) Local Administration (b) Ministry of Defence (c) Ministry of Home Affairs (d) Air Defence Clearance from Indian Air Force (e) Airport Authority or India (AAI) and (f) Ministry of Agriculture (as applicable) prior to operation of Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS).
Drone Operator to Follow SOP
The RPAS will only be operated by Ms General Aeronautics that llSR has engaged through Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. and pertain only to operating the RPAS models specified in the approved Standard Operating Procedures (SOP).
The operations of the RPAS having valid Drone Acknowledgement Number (DAN) as specified in the approved SOP is to be operated as per the above-mentioned approved SOP in the area specified therein.
Any change in the approved SOP for e.g. Change in procedures or RPAS or use case or personnel or area specified in the approved SOP shall be included in the SOP and submitted to DGCA for approval, a MoCA stratement said.
Before every single flight, drone pilots are required to request permission to fly via a mobile app, which will automatically process the request and grant or reject it. India is calling their system “No Permission, No Takeoff” (NPNT).
Foreigners are currently not allowed to fly drones in India. For commercial purposes, they need to lease the drone to an Indian entity who in-turn will obtain Unique Identification Number (UIN) and UAOP from DGCA.
Drone Categories in India
Registration is required for all but the Nano category.
- Nano: Less than or equal to 250 grams (.55 pounds)
- Micro: From 250 grams (.55 pounds) to 2kg (4.4 pounds)
- Small: From 2kg (4.4 pounds) to 25kg (55 pounds)
- Medium: From 25kg (55 pounds) to 150kg (330 pounds)
- Large: Greater than 150kg (33 pounds)
Before every single flight, drone pilots are required to request permission to fly via a mobile app, which will automatically process the request and grant or reject it. India is calling their system “No Permission, No Takeoff” (NPNT). If a drone pilot tries to fly without receiving permission from the Digital Sky Platform, he or she will simply not be able to take off.
All RPAS operators will register it and request permission to fly for each flight through India’s Digital Sky Platform. The Digital Sky Platform and further details will be available on the DGCA website from December 1, 2018.