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India's Drone Regulations 1.0: Pre-flight Checks You Need To Know About

Written By Diyali Banerjee | Mumbai | Published:

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  • The Ministry of Civil Aviation has announced that flying drones for commercial purposes will be soon legalized in the country
  • The Ministry of Civil Aviation stated that they have developed global standards that would permit, with appropriate safeguards, the commercial use of various drone technologies

Marking a step towards the advancement of drone technologies, the Ministry of Civil Aviation has announced that flying drones for commercial purposes will soon be legalized in the country. As per a statement released by the ministry, the commercial use of drones could be beneficial in the sectors of agriculture and health, and in disaster relief.

On Tuesday, the government announced the first set of safety regulations for safe commercial usage of the drones. 

Here's the Press Release:

To fly a drone within Indian limits, here are the things one needs to keep in mind:

Types of drones and their specifications

The Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS), aka drones, will be introduced in 5 different categories depending upon the weight: Nano, micro, small, medium and large dronesTo fly within Indian limits, the device must have GNSS (GPS),  Return to Home, Anti-collision light, ID Plates, Flight controller with flight data logging capability and RF ID and SIM/'No permission no take off' (NPNT) technology. To take off in a condensed airspace, the device must have Flight Information Center and a Flight Defense Cleaner.  Also, the drones must comply with the criteria of minimum manufacturing standards set out by the Aviation department and also some basic level training is mandatory for the pilots. 

Does one need a 'drone license', and what can drones be used for?

Acknowledging the wide range of application for the drones, the Ministry of Civil Aviation stated that they have developed global standards for drones that would permit, with appropriate safeguards, the commercial use of various drone technologies in areas as diverse as photography and industry asset maintenance.  However, one needs to go through a digital one-time registration process to operate the drones. Regulated by the Ministry of Civil Aviation, one would require a digital-permit, called the Unmanned Aircraft Operational Permit (UAOP) to fly the drones, However, Nano dronesoperating below 50 ft and micro drones, operating below 200 ft, as well as those owned by the authorities are an exception.  In fact, the Aviation ministry has formulated the first of a kind national unmanned traffic management program, ‘The digital sky platform’, that will ensure every drone has a Unique identification number and won't let the device take off without a valid digital permit.  The flights will be restricted only to daytime and will be allowed to fly only within 400 meters of sight. The devices are not allowed to carry anything and are barred from being used for delivery purposes. Also, they cannot also be used in family functions or conduct wedding photography. 

Where you can and cannot fly the drone:

The flight of the drones is restricted in certain areas. “No drone zones” will be maintained in sensitive areas like Vijay Chowk in Delhi and State Secretariat Complexes in state capitals. The airspace has been divided into Red, Yellow and Green zone to control the permission of flight. While the red zones represent a 'No drone zone', the yellow zone allows controlled movements of the device and the green zone represents free space. However, drones won't be allowed to fly around airports, international borders, coastlines, state secretariat complexes, and military installations.

Talking about the new initiative, Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu said that India has started an exciting new chapter in its aviation history by allowing the commercial use of the drones. He further stated that emerging new and exciting applications will propel India’s economy forward, adding that the progressive regulations will encourage a vast 'Made in India' drone industry.

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