Rules for Flying of Drones in India

Regulation of Drones.

Author: Mr. Abhishek Naharia, RGNUL, Patiala

What are the General Rules and Regulations for Flying of Drones in India?

The Ministry of Civil Aviation has defined Drones as a technology platform that has a wide range of applications from photography to agriculture. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation uses the term “Remotely Piloted Aircraft” to describe an unmanned aircraft piloted from a remote pilot station differentiating them from model aircraft. The Remotely Piloted Aircraft would need to have a Unique Identity Number, An Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit and follow all flight rules. 

Most of the Restrictions are general in nature and are familiar amongst all the countries across the world. That the drones must stay away from up to a reasonable extent from the Airports, Borders, Coasts, Military Installations is a general rule. That the Drones must stay away from the specifically restricted zones is also a general rule that each drone owner must be aware of. That the drone owners must also prevent their drones from entering into the wildlife parks and sanctuaries and that they cannot be operated from a moving vehicle, ship or aircraft. 

The Categories of Drones and the Equipment Required for Drone in India. 

As per the classification by the Ministry of Civil Aviation, the nano drones are supposed to be less than 250 grams, the micro-drones are supposed to be from 250 grams to 2 kgs, the small drones are supposed to be from 2 kgs to 25 kgs, medium ones from 25 kgs to 150 kgs and large ones weigh more than 150 kgs. Except for the nano drones, the rest category of the drones has to be issued a Unique Identification Number. 

The mandatory drone equipment that would be required to fly one in India includes GPS, return to Home, Anti-Collision Light, ID Plate, A flight controller with flight data logging capability, RF ID and SIM/No Permission No take-off (NPNT).

About India’s No Permission, No Take-off Policy. 

India has its strict No Permission, No take-off policy wherein before every single flight, the pilots are required to take permission through a mobile app. The permission is first requested through the mobile app, and then the mobile app either accepts the permission or ejects the permission. In India, we also call it the NPNT system. What remains as an interesting point to note herein is that of the driver of the drone does not take the prior permission from the online app and tries to fly through India’s Digital Sky Platform, then such an attempt would be a failure. Therefore, all drone operators would have to register their drones on their purchase and for the usage. The Details of the digital sky platform is being mentioned in the Directorate General of Civil Aviation website.

The Official Release of the Government of India on the regulation of Drones by the Ministry of Civil Aviation.

The Government of India notification that was released by the Ministry of Civil Aviation was put into effect from the 1st December 2018. The Civil Aviation Ministry has stated specifically in the notification that considering the lack of rules and regulation in India with regards to the flying of Drones for many long years, the Government took so long to have made the rules regulating Drones. 

Primarily, the Ministry stated 3 reasons for the delay in rulemaking: firstly, because the drone technologies have been evolving rapidly over the years due to the technological advancement of all nations across the globe. Secondly, numerous countries across the Globe had still been involved in experimenting with the framing of the rules and regulations and that they were not able to process the same to the final stage due to non-compliance with the local laws with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Thirdly, that India’s territorial location in the world facilitation for an extra amount of precaution that needs to be taken by the law framers as the territorial borders are not that safe as compared to other European/American nations. 

The following were the major points that were laid down in the notification. The drones, also called the Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) would be categorized as per their weight as nano, micro, small, medium, large. Further, every RPAS would have one Unique Identification Number (UIN) and that it has to operate within the max. prescribed 400ft. altitude during the day time only in the visual line of sight (VLoS). No Drone Zones would be clearly and specifically stated by the Government and no violation must be tolerated. That the operations of the Drone would be enabled through the Digital Sky Platform.

The requirements under the new law on the Regulation of Drones and Penalties. 

First of all, the CAR (Civil Aviation requirements) have to be duly complied with by all the drone pilots in controlled and uncontrolled airspaces. Except for the nano category, everyone has to acquire a UIN for Rs. 1000 on a fire-resistant plate emblazoned on the Drone. If Operating above the limit of 200fts., the Un-manned Aerial Operator Permit (UAOP) is to be acquired, also called the remote pilot license. This will cost about Rs. 25,000.  All Drone Manufacturers such as DJI, Parrot, Autel, Swellpro will need to comply with this requirement. 

Whosoever breaches the above-mentioned Rules and Regulations would have to suffer from any of the following penalties. The cancelation of the UIN. Actions as per the relevant section(s) of the Aircraft Act, 1934 or the Aircraft Rules, and penalties as per applicable (the relevant provisions of the Indian Penal Code, 1860).

Drone Regulations 2.0.

Moving forward strongly in a very positive manner, the Minister of State Shri Jayant Sinha is to provide with the Drone Regulations 2.0 as the whole of India is awaiting that moment. The Drone Regulations 2.0 which are yet to be brought before the Public in the form of an Official Notification are supposedly considered to cover Air Space Management, Beyond Visual Line-of-Sight Operations, the contribution to establishing global standards, the certification of safe and controlled drone operation and suggest for the modifications of the current CAR’s. 

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