You are reading it here first: The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has revealed the names of the members in India’s Drone Directorate — a dedicated body under the Civil Aviation Ministry that will focus solely on drones. MediaNama had filed an RTI application to the civil aviation regulator. The government had announced the formation of the Directorate in November. It was to be comprised entirely of DGCA officials, but the names of members hadn’t been disclosed.
Following are members of the Drones Directorate:
- Hillol Biswas, Director, Aircraft Engineering
- R.P. Kashyap, Deputy Director, Air Traffic Control Organisation
- K. Thulasiraman, Deputy Director, Aircraft Engineering
- Manish Gupta, Assistant Director, Aircraft Engineering
- Yogendra Kumar, Assistant Director, Airworthiness
- Ajay Pal Ogrey, Operations Officer
- Praveen Kumar Singh, Aeronautical Officer
- Manish (It isn’t clear which department in the DGCA this person belongs to)
We have reached out to a few members in the Directorate for comment on what their immediate priorities will be, and will update the story if we hear from them.
The Finance Ministry had given its nod to set up the Directorate in November; the department will increase in size with time. The Directorate will help in creating more focus on the drones’ ecosystem, given that both DGCA, and the Civil Aviation Ministry have traditionally prioritised civil aviation operations over drones, an industry source had earlier told MediaNama.
What the Directorate could look into: A dedicated draft legislation for drone use in the country was published in June, and the rules are currently in the draft stage, and the Directorate could look into finalising these rules.
There is another important thing that the Directorate could look into: the multiple delays in rolling out “no permission, no takeoff” (NPNT) support to the Digital Sky platform. India’s drone rules mandate that only NPNT-compliant drones be allowed to fly, however, given that the functionality is yet to be baked into the Digital Sky platform, this provision has rarely been met.
How India’s drone space has changed over the last one year: The idea to set up a dedicated Drones Directorate was first proposed in 2019, by the then Civil Aviation Minister Jayant Sinha, particularly to issue guidelines for drone operations, and for handling certification of drone pilots, among other things. Since then, the drone ecosystem has changed quite significantly:
- Multiple drone training schools have been approved by the DGCA to train and certify drone operators — a prerequisite for obtaining a drone pilot license — and very recently had its first batch of certified drone pilots.
- The DGCA has approved a third-party drone certification scheme to fast track drone certification in the country.
- Insurance regulator, IRDAI, formed a working committee to look into drone insurance, and the group had already come out with a working paper. A few banks have also started offering drone insurance plans.
While the government is building the entire infrastructure for drone use in the country, it is also slowly and steadily allowing for more drone use. The COVID-19 pandemic saw a number of state governments deploy surveillance drones for containment exercises, but even beyond the pandemic, drones are now being deployed in multiple areas — including at critical infrastructure such as thermal power plants.
MediaNama has prepared an exhaustive guide to the drone industry in India, encompassing regulations, use cases, concerns around privacy and surveillance, and the way forward for the industry. The guide is available here.