Civil Aviation ministry announced that it had started the process of registration for drone operations in the country, to be done through portal called ‘Digital sky’.
• Flying drones or remotely-piloted aircraft have become legal in India with the National Drones Policy drafted by the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
• Drone regulation 1.0: The new policy defines what will be classified as remotely piloted aircraft, how they can be flown and the restrictions they will have to operate under.
• Drone regulation 2.0: The government will put out draft for drone regulation 2.0 by mid January 2019.
Highlights of the Drone Regulation 1.0:
• Regulatory Body: Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) will be the primary body dealing with regulation and safety issues.
• RPA: The DGCA has defined Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) as an unmanned aircraft piloted from a remote pilot station.
• RPAS: The remotely piloted aircraft, its associated remote pilot station(s), command and control links and any other components forms a Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS).
• UIN and UAOP: It is mandatory to obtain a Unique Identification Number (UIN) assigned to each RAPS and Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit (UAOP) for the drone operator. The UIN and UAOP will be issued by the DGCA.
- All RPAS except nano and those owned by NTRO, ARC and Central Intelligence Agencies are to be registered and issued with UIN
- 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
• The DGCA has segregated drones into five different categories:
- Nano: Less than or equal to 250 grams.
- Micro: From 250 grams to 2 kg.
- Small: From 2 kg to 25 kg.
- Medium: From 25 kg to 150 kg.
- Large: Greater than 150 kg.
- Digital Sky Platform: It will be national Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) platform that implements ‘no permission no takeoff’ system for drones.
• Some Restrictions:
- Air space has been partitioned into Red Zone (flying not permitted), Yellow Zone (controlled airspace), and Green Zone (automatic permission).
- No Drone Zones: Specific regions in the country are marked as ‘No Drone Zones’ such as near airports, international border, and strategic locations and military installations.
- Drones cannot be flown beyond 500 m into sea from the coast
- It also cannot be operated from a mobile platform such as a moving vehicle, ship or aircraft.
- Eco-sensitive zones around National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries are off-limits without prior permission.
- The basic operating procedure will restrict drone flights to the daytime only within “Visual Line of Sight (VLOS)” upto a maximum altitude of 400-feet.
- No remote pilot can operate more than one RPA at any time.
- There can’t be any human or animal payloads, or anything hazardous.
- An insurance will be mandatory to cover third-party damage.
• Enforcement Actions: There are provisions for suspension/ cancellation of UIN/UAOP in case of violation of regulatory provisions. The actions will be taken as per relevant provisions of Aircraft Act 1934 or IPC sections.