Govt Issues Draft Rules To Ease Drone Use In India

New Delhi: The civil aviation ministry Thursday issued draft rules to ensure ease of using drones in India on the basis of “trust, self-certification and non-intrusive monitoring”, an official statement said.

Drones were used on June 27 to drop explosives at the Indian Air Force (IAF) station in Jammu airport, causing minor injuries to its two personnel. On June 29, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had held a top-level meeting to discuss emerging security threats including drones.

The number of forms to be filled to operate drones in the country has been reduced to six in the draft ‘Drone Rules, 2021’ in comparison to 25 forms mentioned in the Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Rules, 2021, the aviation ministry’s statement said.

Industry body Drone Federation of India (DFI) commended the Centre’s “bold” decision to liberalise the drone policy — even after the Jammu incident — by having a balanced approach between the economic benefits and security concerns.

The fee for registration and approval has been reduced to nominal levels and de-linked from the size of the drone under the draft rules, the ministry said.

The draft rules have also abolished the requirement of various approvals, including certificate of conformance, certificate of maintenance, import clearance, acceptance of existing drones, operator permit, authorisation of R&D organisation and student remote pilot licence, it said.

The Drone Rules, 2021, once notified, will supersede the UAS Rules, 2021, which came into force on March 12.

Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said the draft rules mark a “stark shift” from the UAS Rules, 2021.

“Drones are bringing the next big tech revolution around the globe with reduced costs, resources and time taken for operations. It is upon us to ride on the new wave and facilitate its uptake, especially among our startups,” he said on Twitter.

No flight permission, according to the draft rules, will be 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.

The draft rules have also prescribed easier process for transfer and deregistration of drones.

The draft rules have been built on a premise of trust, self-certification and non-intrusive monitoring, the ministry stated.

No pilot licence will be required for micro drones (for non-commercial use), nano drone and for R&D (research and development) organisations, the draft rules said.

Drone corridors will be developed for cargo deliveries and a drone promotion council will be set up to facilitate drone-friendly regulatory regime in the country, according to the draft rules.

The last date for public to submit their comments on the draft rules is August 5.

The draft rules also stated that there would be no restriction on drone operations by foreign-owned companies registered in India.

Digital sky platform will be developed as a business-friendly single-window online system.

“There will be minimal human interface on the digital sky platform and most of the permissions will be self-generated,” the draft rules added.

In a statement, DFI said it is encouraging to see that the regulations are formed with a balanced approach with an understanding of the economic benefits that drone technology brings while addressing the safety and security concerns of the country.

The DFI has companies like Asteria Aerospace, Quidich Innovation Labs, AutoMicroUAS, Aarav Unmanned Systems and Indrones, as its members.

Smit Shah, director, DFI said, “The Ministry of Civil Aviation’s decision to liberalise the drone policy even after the recent drone incidents in Jammu showcases the government’s bold approach to promote the use of drones and focus on the development of counter-drone technology to address the threat posed by rogue drones.”

“We appreciate the ministry’s initiative of liberalising the drone industry and will continue to extend our support towards making India a global drone hub,” he added.

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