The Union Government has suggested establishing a corridor for flying drones and setting up a regime for licensing and authorizing flying of drones. Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha announced the updated policy for drone operations at the Global Aviation Summit in Mumbai yesterday. The regulations are in line with what the Union government had indicated when it announced Drone Regulations 1.0 in August 2018.

A whitepaper on the new regulations will be released soon, while the minister has indicated several mainstays in the Drone Regulations 2.0. Here are major proposals in the new policy, as announced by Jayant Sinha yesterday:

  • Drone corridors: creating space in the sky with dynamic red, yellow and green zones. “A 5-km radius around airports and areas around Rashtrapati Bhavan will be red zone…There will be plenty of green zones, and some yellow zones,” said the minister.
  • Drone service providers for registering, licensing and regulation for flying drones
  • Drone ports: To enable drone corridors for different types of drones, and to operate drones beyond the visual line of sight, with payloads, and to enable automation of flight. “Each operational drone has to be registered” said the minister. This was already required in the first phase of drone regulations, “they will become more stringent in Drone Regulations 2.0 as we cross these thresholds of beyond visual line-of-sight, payloads, and automation”
  • Automatic air traffic management: To enable bi-modal control which will ensure that both the DSPs and air traffic management have control of the drone
  • Drone Directorate: setting up a Drone directorate under the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DCGA) to issue guidelines for drone operations, reports PTI. The directorate may prescribe “a maximum lifecycle for each drone-type and operators must apply for re-certification at the end of the lifecycle.”
  • 100% FDI under automatic route for UAS (Unmanned Aerial System) and RPAS (Remotely Piloted Aircraft System), per PTI
  • The new regulations includes features for “protecting personal data by design” per PTI

Drone Regulations 1.0

The Union government had initially announced drone regulations in August 2018. The rules came into effect in December 2018, when the Digital Sky platform for registration of drones was launched. The rules created a registrations and licensing regime for flying drone, providing more legal certainty to those operating drones. The key drone flying rules on Digital Sky are:

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

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