New Drone Policy in India: License Regulations Eased Further

In the new drone policy in India, drone registration and licensing are not subject to security clearances. The requisite fees for permissions were also reduced to nominal levels.

On 26th August, 2021, Thursday, the government officially notified the new drone policy in India, whose draft was seen last month. Now, the Drone Rules 2021 make it significantly easier for individuals and companies in the country to own and operate drones since no security clearance is required before a license can be registered.

As announced by the ministry of civil aviation on Thursday, here’s all you need to know about the Drone Rules 2021:

1. Drone coverage has been increased from 300kg to 500kg, including heavy payload-carrying drones and drone taxis.

2. There is no security clearance required for drone registration or licensing. Permission fees have also been reduced to nominal levels.

3. Several approvals have been eliminated, including the unique authorisation number, the unique prototype identification number, the certificate of conformance, the certificate of maintenance, the operator permits, the R&D organization authorisation, and the remote pilot instructor authorisation, among others.

4. The maximum penalty under the new drone policy is a mere Rs. 1 lakh, and that does not apply to penalties imposed under other laws.

5. According to the new drone policy, a new Unmanned Aircraft Systems Promotion Council is to be established to promote an efficient regulatory regime for private drone operators.

6. Drone imports will be regulated by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT). As a result of the new regulations, drone corridors will also be used for cargo deliveries.

7. There will be an interactive map of airspace with green, yellow, and red zones on the digital sky platform. Yellow zone has been lowered from 45km to 12km from airport perimeter. The green zone is exempt from permission requirements for drone use, as well as areas between 8 and 12 kilometers away from the airport perimeter where drones can be operated up to 200 feet.

8. All zones shall be registered online through the Digital Sky platform, with an easy process to transfer or deregister drones.

9 . As part of the new drone policy, existing drones in India will be regularized. An authorized drone school will conduct all drone training and examinations. In addition to providing pilot licenses online, the DGCA shall prescribe training requirements, regulate drone schools, and oversee drone training.

10 . The policy notes that safety features like ‘No permission-no takeoff (NPNT)’ real-time tracking beacons and geo-fencing will be notified in the future. There will be a minimum six-month lead time for compliance.

The Drone Rules 2021 have also done away with the requirement of possessing a certificate of airworthiness, unique identification number, prior permission and remote pilot licence for entities engaged in research and development (R&D) on drones.

This comes less than a fortnight after the ministry of civil aviation (MoCA) and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) permitted 10 organizations, including state governments such as Karnataka and private companies like Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd, Bayer Crop Science, Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune and National Health Mission (Mumbai), to use drones for a year.

The rules will replace the UAS (unmanned aircraft system) Rules 2021 issued on 12 March, the aviation ministry said in a statement.

“The new Drone Rules will tremendously help startups and youth working in the sector. It will open up possibilities for innovation & business. It will help leverage India’s strengths in innovation, technology & engineering to make India a drone hub,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a tweet.

He said the rules will “usher in a landmark moment for this sector in India. The rules are based on the premise of trust and self-certification. Approvals, compliance requirements and entry barriers have been significantly reduced”.

According to the Drone Rules 2021, the requirement for several approvals have been abolished, including that for unique authorization number, a prototype identification number, certificate of manufacturing and airworthiness, certificate of conformance, certificate of maintenance, import clearance, acceptance of existing drones, operator permits, authorization of R&D organization, student remote pilot licence, remote pilot instructor authorization and drone port authorization.

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