Tech News

Everything You Need to Know About the New Drone Rules The policy will come into effect beginning December 2018


INDIA’s aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, recently released India’s first drone policy that lays out the conditions under which a drone can be imported, owned or flown in the country.

These regulations have been in the making for quite some time now, and finally, they are out. The new drone policy will come into effect beginning December 2018.

Here’s a look at what these rules and regulations mean.

What are drones?

A remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) which is unmanned and is piloted from a remote pilot station is what the DGCA define as a drone.

The policy states that “the remotely piloted aircraft, its associated remote pilot station(s), command and control links and any other components forms a Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS)”.

Now to fly a drone or an unmanned aircraft, these RPS’ will need to have a unique identification number (UIN) and the pilot would need an Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit (UAOP).

This is as per the civil aviation requirements – issued under the provisions of Rule 15A and Rule 133A of the Aircraft Rules, 1937.

The DGCA policy has defined these RPA’s into the following categories.

1. Nano: Less than or equal to 250 grams.
2. Micro: From 250 grams to 2kg.
3. Small: From 2kg to 25kg.
4. Medium: From 25kg to 150kg.
5. Large: Greater than 150kg.

According to the new policy, all drones other than those defined as Nano will have to apply to DGCA for an import clearance. Once the import license is received, the applicant will have to apply to the DGCA for the unique number (UIN) and the operator permit (UAOP), as applicable.

Once you apply for this import clearance the Directorate General of Foreign Trade will issue a license for import of RPAS.

So, what about the Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit (UAOP)?

Operators and owners who want to fly drones will have to acquire a permit from the DGCA. But there are some exceptions that will not require the operator permit to fly. They are:

1. Nano RPA operating below 50 feet (15 m) in uncontrolled airspace / enclosed premises.
2. Micro RPA operating below 200 feet (60 m) in uncontrolled airspace / enclosed premises – but will need to inform local police 24 hours prior.
3. RPA owned and operated by NTRO, ARC and Central Intelligence Agencies but after intimating local police.

The DGCA will also have to issue the UAOP within seven working days provided all the documents have been submitted by the operator.

The UAOP will also be valid for five years and is not transferable. As needed by many laws in the country, for operating an RPA, the operator needs to be over 18 years of age.

But that’s not the only requirement. The operator also needs to have cleared the 10th standard exam in English, and undergone ground/practical training as approved by DGCA.

When and How Can You Operate Drones?

For starters, drone flights are only restricted to daytime and also within a “Visual Line of Sight (VLOS)”.

This rule has no exception and applies to all drone categories. Also, forget about multitasking. A drone operator can only fly a single drone.

Also, there can’t be any human or animal payloads, or anything hazardous on the drone. Safety is also a priority as it cannot in any manner cause danger to people or property.

Another interesting aspect is that the drone operators will need to have insurance, which is mandatory to cover third party damage.

A drone or an RPA cannot be flown within 5km of the perimeters of the airports in Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Bengaluru and Hyderabad and within 3km from the perimeter of any other airport.

Another thing to keep in mind is that these RPA’s cannot be flown within “permanent or temporary Prohibited, Restricted and Danger Areas” and within 25km from international border which includes the Line of Control (LoC), Line of Actual Control (LAC) and Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL).

For people living near the ocean, an RPA cannot fly beyond 500 m into the sea from the coastline and within 3 km from perimeter of military installations.

Also for people living in Delhi and NCR, you cannot fly an RPA within a 5 km radius of Vijay Chowk in Delhi, within 2 km from perimeter of strategic locations/vital installations notified by Ministry of Home Affairs and within 3 km from radius of State Secretariat Complexes.

Drone operators will also need to be placed at a stationary position and you would not be allowed to operate an RPA from a mobile platform such as a moving vehicle, ship, boat or aircraft.

Finally and with no exception, eco-sensitive zones around National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries are off-limits for flying drones. Special permission from authorities will be needed to operate them in these zones.

So, now that this policy is put in place, make sure that you follow these as violations of any of these rules and exception can also lead you to be booked under relevant sections of the IPC and the Aircraft Act of 1934.

So, come December, enthusiasts and filmmakers will be able to legally fly their drones for those stunning aerial shots.




Original features, micro docus and explainers


Get stories that count, stories that matter everyday in your mailbox