Use Of Drones In India To Become Much Easier, Say New Draft Rules

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Representational picture of a Remotely Piloted Aircraft System or drone. Source: Twitter

In a major milestone for the Indian drones ecosystem, the Ministry of Civil Aviation has published the Draft Drone Rules 2021.

The revised rules when finalised shall supersede the currently in effect Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Rules 2021 which were published in March 2021. A MoCA statement said the draft rules were to ensure ease of using drones in India on the basis of “trust, self-certification and non-intrusive monitoring.”

The number of forms to be filled to operate drones in the country have been reduced to six in draft Drone Rules, 2021′ in comparison to 25 forms mentioned in the Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Rules, 2021, it said.

Lesser Approvals Needed for Drones

Newly appointed Civil Aviation Minister, Jyotiraditya Scindia said, “Drones are bringing the next big tech revolution around the globe with reduced costs, resources and time taken for operations. It is upon us to ride on the new wave and facilitate its uptake, especially among our startups. Way to go.”

The Unmanned Aircraft System Rules, 2021 came into force on March 12 this year. The Drone Rules, 2021, once notified, will supersede the UAS Rules, 2021.

The fee, in the draft rules, has been reduced to nominal levels and de-linked from the size of the drone, the statement said.

The draft rules have also abolished the requirement of various approvals, including certificate of conformance, certificate of maintenance, import clearance, acceptance of existing drones, operator permit, authorisation of R&D organisation and student remote pilot licence, it said.

No Permission up to 400 Feet

No flight permission will be 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, the draft rules stated adding that the process for transfer and deregistration of drones would be easier than before.

The draft rules have been built on a premise of trust, self-certification and non-intrusive monitoring, the ministry stated.

No pilot licence will be required for micro drones (for non-commercial use), nano drone and for R&D (research and development) organisations, the draft rules mentioned.

Drone corridors will be developed for cargo deliveries and a drone promotion council will be set up to facilitate drone-friendly regulatory regime in the country, according to the draft rules.

The last date for public to submit their comments on the draft rules is August 5.

The draft rules also stated that there would be no restriction on drone operations by foreign-owned companies registered in India.

Digital sky platform will be developed as a business-friendly single-window online system.

“There will be minimal human interface on the digital sky platform and most of the permissions will be self-generated,” the draft rules added.

Drone Federation Supports Draft

The Drone Federation of India (DFI) a non-government, not-for-profit, industry-led body that promotes the drone industry by bringing policy change said that it is encouraging to see that the regulations are formed with a balanced approach with an understanding of the economic benefits that drone technology brings while addressing the safety and security concerns of the country.

DFI said that built on a premise of trust, self-certification, and non-intrusive monitoring, these rules shall be pivotal for the growth of the Indian drone industry and will enable an increase in the adoption of drones across various industries.

Bold Move

“The Ministry of Civil Aviation’s decision to liberalise the drone policy even after the recent drone incidents in Jammu showcases the government’s bold approach to promote the use of the drone and focus on the development of counter-drone technology to address the threat posed by rogue drones,” said Smit Shah, Director, DFI.

Mr. Shah added that the industry appreciated the Ministry of Civil Aviation’s initiative of liberalising the drone industry and will continue to extend our support towards making India a global drone hub.

The DFI works towards creating business opportunities, developing a robust skilling infrastructure, developing standards, and promoting R&D efforts and  strives towards building a safer and scalable unmanned aviation industry by engaging with thought leaders, industry & academia experts, visionaries and policymakers.


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