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Govt allows commercial use of drones: All you need to know about new UAV policy

Announcing the news along with set of regulations for commercial drones, Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu on Monday said that new progressive regulations will encourage a vast Made in India drone industry.

Reported by: India TV News Desk, New Delhi [ Updated: August 28, 2018 13:10 IST ]
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The Ministry of Civil Aviation  has cleared the commercial use of drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) for certain sectors from December 1. Announcing the news along with set of regulations for commercial drones, Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu on Monday said that new progressive regulations will encourage a vast Made in India drone industry. 

He said the relief efforts in Kerala would have been much more effective had the regulation been in place by now. He said drone market is expected to touch USD 1 trillion in the coming years.

"We are likely to go from travelling in auto rickshaws to air rickshaws. There is a wide range of application of drones, from disaster relief, surveillance, security monitoring, precision agriculture, precision logistics," said Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha. 

According to the regulations, drones can be used for taking wedding photographs.

Here is all you need know about the new drone regulations

What are drones?

The DGCA has defined remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) as an unmanned aircraft piloted from a remote pilot station. “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),” the policy states. Also, as per the civil aviation requirements – issued under the provisions of Rule 15A and Rule 133A of the Aircraft Rules, 1937 – these RPAs will need a Unique Identification Number (UIN), Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit (UAOP) and need to adhere to other operational requirements.

The DGCA has segregated drones into five different categories

i) Nano : Less than or equal to 250 grams.

ii) Micro : From 250 grams to 2kg.
iii) Small : From 2kg to 25kg.
iv) Medium : From 25kg to 150kg.
v) Large : Greater than 150kg.

All drones, other than in the nano category, shall apply to DGCA for import clearance and based on that Directorate General of Foreign Trade shall issue license for import of RPAS.

Do you need permission to fly a drone? 

The registration of the drones, permission to fly will be done digitally through the 'digital sky platform', connected to local police, which will implement "no permission, no take off". 

Users of the nano drone, which weighs less than 250 gram and flies up to 50 feet, are exempted from securing permission, including from local police. But micro drones flying up to 200 feet and small drones flying over 450 feet and above will have to require police permission.

"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," said a government statement.

The commercial use of drones (unmanned aircraft) across sectors such as agriculture, health and disaster relief under new regulations will come into force from December 1, but delivery of payload, including food items, would not be allowed as of now, the government said today. 

All civilian drone operations will be restricted only during day time and flying will be restricted within visual line of sight which usually would be 450 metres, the regulation says.

Except nano drones and those owned by National Technical Research Organisation and central intelligence agencies, the rest would be registered and issued Unique Identification Number (UIN). 

How can drones be operated in India?

The basic operating procedure will restrict drone flights to the daytime only and that too within “Visual Line of Sight (VLOS)”. This applies to all categories. 

Also, along with other SOPs, the DGCA has clarified that no remote pilot can operate more than one RPA at any time. 

Plus, manned aircraft will also get priority. There can’t be any human or animal payloads, or anything hazardous. It cannot in any manner cause danger to people or property. 

An insurance will be mandatory to cover third-party damage.

What are the restrictions on flying drones in India?

The regulation prevents the drones from flying around airports, near international border, near coast line, state secretariat complexes. Besides, they cannot operate in strategic locations, vital and military installations and Vijay Chowk in the capital.

While drones can be used for agricultural purpose, they cannot be used for spraying pesticides until specifically cleared. Besides, carriage of explosives, animals and human payload are not allowed. 

So far the government has not given permisison to use drones for any sort of delivery, including food. But, it may be allowed in second set of instructions after due testing. 

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.

Violations will be acted on under relevant sections of the IPC and the Aircraft Act 1934.

(With inputs from agencies)

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