By Nikhil Cariappa

The Ministry of Civil Aviation has announced the launch of Digital Sky, the online platform for the registration of drones in India. Suresh Prabhu, the Minister for Civil Aviation, tweeted on Saturday that online registration for drone operations is now live on the Digital Sky portal. After registration, drone operators can commence personal and commercial drone flights.

The Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had put out the first draft of regulations in April 2016 after being apprised of the safety hazards posed by drones and the absence of a drone policy in India. After consultations and revisions, the Ministry of Civil Aviation had announced the draft of drone regulations 1.0 in August 2018. India’s drone policy has come into effect from December 1, 2018.

The Digital Sky portal lists the rules for legal drone operations in India –

  1. All drones (other than nano drones) are required to have a unique identification number (UIN). The fee for a fresh UIN is Rs 1000.
  2. All drone operators (except for nano and micro drones) are required to obtain an Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit (UAOP). The fee for a fresh UAOP is Rs 25,000 and is valid for 5 years.
  3. No permission, no take off (NPNT) – Before any flight, a NPNT clearance needs to be obtained
  4. All drones need to have Insurance and AN ID plate, with the UIN engraved on a fire-resistant plate
  5. Nano drones don’t have to be registered or obtain NPNT compliances. They can be operated up to 50 feet or in enclosed spaces.
  6. Micro drones cannot be flown above 200 feet; all other drones can be flown up to 400 feet
  7. Drones can be operated only during the day, and within line of sight
  8. Air space has been partitioned into Red Zone (flying not permitted), Yellow Zone (controlled airspace), and Green Zone (automatic permission).
  9. Drones fall under the restricted items category and can’t be carried in hand baggage in aircraft

Classification of Drones (by weight)

  • Nano drones (less than 250 gms)
  • Micro drones (250 gm – 2 kg)
  • Small drones (2kg – 25kg)
  • Medium drones (25kg – 150kg)
  • Large drones (over 150 kgs)

While these regulations are a part of the drone regulations 1.0, the ministry said that the Drone Task Force, under the chairmanship of Jayant Sinha, will provide draft recommendations for drone policy 2.0.