Regulations for Drones In India

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An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), commonly known as a Drone, is an aircraft without a human pilot aboard. UAVs are a component of an unmanned aircraft system (UAS); which include a UAV, a ground-based controller, and a system of communications between the two. The flight of UAVs may operate with various degrees of autonomy: either under remote control by a human operator or autonomously by onboard computers.

Compared to manned aircraft, UAVs were originally used for missions too “dull, dirty or dangerous” for humans. While they originated mostly in military applications, their use is rapidly expanding to commercial, scientific, recreational, agricultural, and other applications, such as policing, peacekeeping, and surveillance, product deliveries, aerial photography, agriculture, smuggling, and drone racing.

Civilian UAVs now vastly outnumber military UAVs, with estimates of over a million sold by 2015, so they can be seen as an early commercial application of autonomous things, to be followed by the autonomous car and home robots.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation of India has been working for several years to establish a world leading drone ecosystem in India. To that end, it has comeout with drone regulations in India.

The Union Minister of Civil Aviation announced the Drone Regulations 1.0.

Regulations will be effective from 1stDecember, 2018 Operations of Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) to be enabled through Digital Sky Platform.

The Digital Sky Platform is the first-of-its-kind national unmanned traffic management (UTM) platform that implements “no permission, no takeoff” (NPNT).

Users will be required to do a one-time registration of their drones, pilots and owners. For every flight (exempted for the nano category), users will be required to ask for permission to fly on a mobile app and an automated process permits or denies the request instantly. To prevent unauthorized flights and to ensure public safety, any drone without a digital permit to fly will simply not be able to takeoff.

The UTM operates as a traffic regulator in the drone airspace and coordinates closely with the defense and civilian air traffic controllers (ATCs) to ensure that drones remain on the approved flight paths.

Drone Regulations 1.0 are intended to enable visual line-of-sight daytime-only and a maximum of 400 ft altitude operations. Air space has been partitioned into Red Zone (flying not permitted), Yellow Zone (controlled airspace), and Green Zone (automatic permission).

Going forward, the Drone Task Force under the chairmanship of the Minister of State Jayant Sinha will provide draft recommendations for Drone Regulations 2.0.

Key features of Drone Regulations 1.0 or Regulations for Civil Use of Remotely Piloted Aircraft System:

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation has issued the Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) for civil use of Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) commonly known as drones. The regulation was developed after extensive consultations among various stakeholders, and will be effective from 1st December, 2018.

As per the regulation, there are 5 categories of RPAS categorized by weight, namely nano, micro, small, medium and large.

Operational/ Procedural Requirements: All RPAS except nano and those owned by NTRO, ARC and Central Intelligence Agencies are to be registered and issued with Unique Identification Number (UIN).

Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit (UAOP) shall be required for RPA operators except for nano RPAS operating below 50 ft., micro RPAS operating below 200 ft., and those owned by NTRO, ARC and Central Intelligence Agencies.

The mandatory equipment required for operation of RPAS except nano category are (a) GNSS (GPS), (b) Return-To-Home (RTH), (c) Anti-collision light, (d) ID-Plate, (e) Flight controller with flight data logging capability, and (f) RF ID and SIM/ No-Permission No Take off (NPNT).

As of now, RPAS to operate within visual line of sight (VLoS), during day time only, and upto maximum400 ft. altitude.

For flying in controlled Airspace, filing of flight plan and obtaining Air Defence Clearance (ADC) /Flight Information Centre (FIC) number shall be necessary.

Minimum manufacturing standards and training requirements of Remote Pilots of small and above categories of RPAS have been specified in the regulation.

No Drone Zones: The regulation defines “No Drone Zones” around airports;near international border, Vijay Chowk in Delhi; State Secretariat Complex in State Capitals, strategic locations/vital and military installations; etc.

Operations through Digital Platform: Operations of RPAS to be enabled through Digital Sky Platform. The RPAS operations will be based on NPNT (No Permission, No Take off). The details including links for the digital sky platform shall be available in DGCA website from 1st December, 2018. There will be different colour zones visible to the applicant while applying in the digital sky platform, viz, Red Zone: flying not permitted, Yellow Zone (controlled airspace): permission required before flying, andGreen Zone (uncontrolled airspace): automatic permission.

Enforcement Actions: The enforcement actions are, (a) suspension/ cancellation of UIN/ UAOP in case of violation of regulatory provisions, (b) actions as per relevant Sections of the Aircraft Act 1934, or Aircraft Rules, or any statutory provisions, and (c) penalties as per applicable IPCs (such as 287, 336, 337, 338, or any relevant section of IPC).

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