Flying Drones Will Be Legal In India From December 1
The civil aviation ministry has finally given a nod to the flying of Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) on Monday. It is commonly known by the sobriquet “drones”. Prior to this, flying drones was a punishable offence under Aircraft Act and the Indian Penal Code, due to possible threat to security.
“Drones are a more than $1 billion market. Today is a big day for Indian aviation as we set eyes to unlock this market in India,” said Suresh Prabhu, Union minister for civil aviation, after the launch of Drone Regulation 1.0 on Monday. “India is known for it’s cost-effective technology and can become a global leader in drone technology innovations,” he further added.
However, the use of drones for the commercial purposes like – taxis, delivery vehicles, or other services – is still not permitted. Commercial use will still face stringent policies and regulations. Instead, the government is foreseeing its use in the areas of precision agriculture, aerial surveys and aerial photography among others. It is speculated that this decision is made in the wake of the Kerala disaster.
“We want to establish a world-leading drone ecosystem. These regulations firmly place us among the global leaders. Our policy road map will provide strong impetus to all players in the drone ecosystem. We hope that these initiatives will enable us to create a vibrant new industry,” minister of state for civil aviation Jayant Sinha said.
Licensing And Regulations
The current policy classifies drones into five categories—nano, micro, small, medium and large, depending on weight of drones. This category starts from less than 250 gm and expands to over 150 kg. Drones termed as “nano” that is under 250 gm won’t require any security clearance. Whereas, the Micro category drones (250 g to 2 kg) will be expected to get an approval in 2 days. To make the aviation as well as security authorities aware of the flight path, every category of drone will require an air defence clearance. However, nano drones will be exempted from this regulation.
Furthermore, drones less than 2 kg and operating under 200 feet of height, once registered, can be flown without nods.
Initially, the drones will be permitted to operate only along the visual line-of-sight and only during the day. The policy also confines the use of flying drones up to that the maximum altitude of 400 feet.
Besides, the government is likely to introduce other regulations like ‘no permission-no flight’ and the facility to return to base and others, to be built into drones that are to be either manufactured or imported and sold in India.
Privacy And Security
An event like this is bound to engender scepticism in the public. However, dousing the public fears, Civil Aviation Secretary R.N. Choubey said, “Drone operators won’t have any right to breach anyone’s privacy“. “We are talking to firms that have the technology to rein in such rogue drones, which take permission for a particular flight path but deviate or stray into restricted areas“, he added.