Drone regulations in India

A very big news is coming from the Office of Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) which should mark as a historic day in India’s Drone Industry. The Drone Regulation 1.0 has finally been released which would be effective from 1st December 2018. We had earlier updated the current situations earlier and the Drone Regulation 1.0 is a welcoming step in the right direction to all the stakeholders in Drone Industry

DGCA had put a blanket ban on any kind of Drone Operations by private players by a Public Notice back in October 2014 which had limited the growth of Drone Industry in India. The hope for the removal of ban came with First DGCA Drone Regulation Draft in April 2016 and then after a lot of wait again with Second DGCA Drone Regulation Draft in November 2017. What was interesting to note was the growth of Drone Industry was still going happening with several government agencies taking interests in using Drones and Drone Technology for Surveying, Mapping, Inspections, 3D City Modelling and Agriculture. Many companies were formed during this times coming up with Innovative use cases for solving several issues using Drone Technologies. Indrones was also actively involved with several private and government organisations for POCs and large scale projects. All this efforts has now been given a boost with the new Drone Regulation by DGCA and we shall see a lot of uses of Drones and Drone Technology in the coming time.

Following are some of the highlights we feel are worth noting:

  1.  Clear distingush between the categories of Unmanned Aircrafts: i. Remotely Piloted Aircraft ii. Autonomous Aircraft iii. Model Aircraft. From this distinguish it is clear that the hobbyist, aeromodellers and students involved in research and development will be treated differently.
  2. Only 24 hours for Flight Plans Approvals after filing and only 7 days for getting a new UAOP
  3. All the approvals and flight request will be carried out by DCGA’s own version of Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) tool called ‘Digital Sky’. The complete operation will be digital and manual for using the same shall be released on 1st December 2018
  4. The cost of new UIN – Rs. 1,000, new UAOP – Rs. 25,000 and renewal of UAOP – Rs. 10,000/- (Page 22)
  5. Maximum operations of Drones (except Nano and Micro) increased to 400 feet, which is also an international standard which was kept to 200 feet earlier. (Page 9)
  6. Clear syllabus for a comprehensive drone training program. Standard training of 5 days. (Page 28)
  7. Comprehensive list of Drone Testing Centres across the country (Page 35)

Apart a lot of known questions have been answered in the list of FAQs by DGCA here: http://dgca.nic.in/cars/RPS-FAQs.pdf

Going forward DGCA will issue the Drone Regulation 2.0 which would include certification of Drone Hardware and Software, Automated Airspace Management, Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) Operations, India’s contribution to global standards and any amendments need to existing CAR.

As there is currently no legislation on drones in India, flying is completely prohibited until appropriate regulations are in place, according to an announcement from October 2014.

Subject: Use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)/ Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) for Civil Applications

Of late, lots of interests are being shown for civil use (both commercial and recreational) of UAS in the country. International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is yet to publish Standards And Recommended Practices (SARPs), as far as certification and operation of civil use of UAS is concerned.

UAS has potential for large number of civil applications. However, its use besides being a safety issue, also poses security threat. The Airspace over cities in India has high density of manned aircraft traffic. Due to lack of regulation, operating procedures/ standards and uncertainty of the technology, UAS poses threat for air collisions and accidents.

The civil operation of UAS will require approval from the Air Navigation Service provider, defence, Ministry of Home Affairs, and other concerned security agencies, besides the DGCA.

DGCA is in the process of formulating the regulations (and globally harmonize those) for certification & operation for use of UAS in the Indian Civil Airspace. Till such regulations are issued, no non government agency, organization, or an individual will launch a UAS in Indian Civil Airspace for any purpose whatsoever.

The above is for strict compliance. To the source

Meanwhile, a draft is still put into circulation, but the authorities are disputing about the responsibilities currently. A typical example of the debilitating Indian bureaucracy. I would not expect that this condition improves in the foreseeable future.

In the meantime, a DJI Phantom 4 was taken away from a reader of our blog by the entry at the airport in Ahemdabad. Supposedly, there is an import ban for complete India. For the existence of such a prohibition I have found no other sources, but I strongly advise against entering India with a multicopter.

We ourselves were with a DJI Phantom 2 in India in 2015. At that time the statements were very different from various sources. If you would like to try to travel to India with a copter, you should refrain from flying at famous landmarks. For example, the Taj Mahal is under special military observation. A drone flight will give you many “spectators in uniform”. It is somewhat more relaxed e.g. in Hampi (Karnataka), where our first drone video came into being.

We have researched the listed drone regulations for India to the best of our knowledge. We can not guarantee the correctness of the information. If you want to be on the safe side, please contact the Indian aviation authority. Alternatively, you can also ask the embassy in your country for further information about the regulations. Please leave us a comment when you receive news and/or gain experience with your copter in India!

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