On Monday, 27th August the Ministry of Civil Aviation announced guidelines for remotely piloted aircrafts – drones that would come into effect from 1 December, aiming to rise opportunities in the Indian Civil Aviation Sector. The “Drone Regulations 1.0” in New Delhi, Suresh Prabhu – the Civil Aviation Minister said that these guidelines shall be the first step towards the development of innovative technology in the development of the drones that shall be used for a wide variety of applications from disaster relief work to agricultural benefits.
“The drone market in India holds the potential of hitting over $1 Trillion, and we plan to develop drone manufacturing for both the domestic and the international market,” said Prabhu that India has the expertise to devise low-cost drones that abide with the regulations.
The three reasons for these regulations are:
1. The Drone Technology has a lot of possibilities.
2. Several nations are also experimenting and innovating drone regulations as no ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) standards have been formulated.
3. The current security environment in India requires extra precaution.
There are basically five category of drones as set by DGCA:
a. Nano : Less than or equal to 250 grams.
b. Micro : From 250 grams to 2kg
c. Small : From 2kg to 25kg.
d. Medium : From 25kg to 150kg.
e. Large : Greater than 150kg.
It is mandatory for all drones, except for the nano category to apply for DGCA and import clearance on Directorate General of Foreign Trade shall license for the import of RPAS.
Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit (UAOP):
For the operation of the civil drones would need permit from the DGCA. Few exceptions would include:
a) Nano RPA operating below 50 feet (15 m) in enclosed premises.
b) Micro RPA operating below 200 feet (60 m) in enclosed premises only after informing the local police prior to 24 hours of the flight.
c) RPA owned and operated by NTRO, ARC and Central Intelligence Agencies but after intimating the local police.
If the documents are complete, the DGCA has issue the UAOP within seven working days. It shall be valid for five years and non-transferable. The policy also highlights that RPAs shall be flown by an individual above the age of 18 years, having passed the 10th examination in English and has undergone field training as approved by DGCA.
Restrictions in place for drones in India:
1. RPAs can’t be flown within 5km radius of the airports in Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Bengaluru and Hyderabad and not within 3km from the perimeter of any other airport.
2. Limited to fly within “permanent or temporary Prohibited, Restricted and Danger Areas” and within 25km from international border which includes the Line of Control (LoC), Line of Actual Control (LAC) and Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL).
3. Restricted to fly within a 5km radius of the Vijay Chowk in Delhi, 2 km from perimeter of vital location or locations with strategic importance, notified by Ministry of Home Affairs and within 3 km from radius of State Secretariat Complexes.
4. It also cannot be operated from a moving platform like a moving vehicle, ship or aircraft.
5. National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries and eco-sensitive zones are off-limits without prior permission
6. Violations to any of the acts will be acted on under relevant sections of the IPC and the Aircraft Act 1934.