New Government Policy Aims At Liberalising Drone Rules

New Government Policy Aims At Liberalising Drone RulesA drone. (representative image) (Source: @IndusSpirit/Twitter)
Snapshot
  • A new drone policy is in public domain with the government preparing to put in place checks to counter any potential threat.

With the aim of liberalising the drone policy, an updated draft drone rules was released for public consultation, which is slated to replace the Unmanned Aircraft System Rules 2021 soon.

According to the draft drone rules 2021, operating drones without a unique identification number will not be allowed, unless exempted. Drone operators will have to generate a unique identification number of a drone by providing requisite details on the digital sky platform.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation’s decision to liberalise the drone policy even after the recent drone incidents in Jammu indicates the government’s bold approach to promote the use of the drone and focus on the development of counter-drone technology to address the threat posed by rogue drones.

The coverage of drones under drone rules 2021 has been increased from 300 kg to 500 kg and will also cover drone taxis, while Issuance of Certificate of Airworthiness has been delegated to Quality Council of India and certification entities authorised by it.

An initiative of the Ministry of Civil Aviation, digital sky platform is to provide a secure and a scalable platform that supports drone technology frameworks, such as NPNT (no permission, no take-off), designed to enable flight permission digitally and managing unmanned aircraft operations and traffic efficiently.

The draft drone rules 2021 also have safety features such as real-time tracking beacon, and geo-fencing, which are expected to be notified in future, and a six-month lead time will be provided for compliance.

Digital sky platform will also be developed as a business-friendly single-window online system with minimal human interference, and most permission will be self-generated.

The draft drone rules 2021 also states that an interactive airspace map with green, yellow, and red zones will be displayed on the digital sky platform. While the yellow zone has been reduced from 45 km to 12 km from nearby airport perimeter, no flight permission is required up to 400 feet in green zones and up to 200 feet in the area between 8 and 12 km from the airport perimeter.

No pilot licence will be required for micro drones used for non-commercial use, nano drones and for research and development (R&D) organisations operating such drones.

The draft Drone Rules 2021 further states that there will be no restriction on drone operations by foreign-owned companies registered in India; import of drones and drone components will be regulated by DGFT; security clearance will not be required before any registration or licence issuance; and that there will be no requirement of certificate of airworthiness, unique identification number, prior permission and remote pilot licence for R&D entities.

The Ministry will also facilitate development of drone corridors for cargo deliveries and a drone promotion council will be set up to facilitate a business-friendly regulatory regime.

The last date for receipt of public comment is 5 August 2021.

Arun Kumar Das is a senior journalist covering railways. He can be contacted at akdas2005@gmail.com.


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