Two years after drone usage was legalised in the country, India finally has 15 pilots that have official certification to fly drones from a school approved by DGCA, India's civil aviation regulator. The pilots were trained and certified by Redbird Flight Training Academy, which had received DGCA’s approval to offer the training in September this year. The academy claimed that training was offered free of cost. Amber Dubey, joint secretary at the Civil Aviation Ministry, and incharge of the drones division, distributed the certificates to the approved pilots at the Delhi Flying Club on November 6. Why this matters: Drone pilots in India need a license to operate. To obtain this license, it is mandatory for them to complete a minimum of a 35-hour training program spread over five days, which includes classroom sessions, simulator training and practical training. However, here’s the thing: There are hundreds of civilian drone pilots in the country, but apart from these fifteen pilots, nobody else is officially certified to fly a drone. As has been well documented, drones have been flying across Indian skies, and in fact, the most frequent user of drones in India, so far, has been the government itself — meaning that every time it has deployed a drone to surveil people, it has allowed people who actually aren't officially to fly a drone to do so. To be sure, even these fifteen pilots have only received their certification from a DGCA-approved drone training school — this does not mean they are…
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