India Eases Drone Norms In Boost For Future Tech
The Union civil aviation ministry released the draft of the national drone policy on Thursday. The policy is aiming to make it significantly easier for people and companies to own and operate drones. It is also streamlining a labyrinthine certification process for manufacturers, importers, and users. The policy aims to boost future tech.
This new policy came days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a meeting of top ministers to discuss the country’s policy on future tech. The meeting was to formulate a policy for the traffic management of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) or drones. Jyotiraditya Scindia, the civil aviation minister, underlined the key highlights of the new policy in his tweets on Thursday. The document now has been put up for public inputs till August 5, post this it will be notified.
The new policy will replace the Unmanned Aircraft System Rules (UAS), 2021, which came into force in March. Not long ago, a drone-like device targeted an Indian Air Force (IAF) base in Jammu with explosives last month. Post-incident, defense officials said that they are working on anti-drone technologies. Typical consumer drones usually have some inbuilt safeguards, and hence not all are unsafe.
Drones are a new significant consumer tech category and are particularly popular among hobbyists and visual artists. They are also in the testing phase for a range of practical as well as industrial uses such as automated package deliveries by e-commerce companies.
Why do we need new Drone rules?
The existing regulation of March 2021, reportedly has a labyrinthine approval process. According to the new draft rules, many of the approvals previously required are no longer necessary. These requirements were a unique authorization number, unique prototype identification number, certificate of conformance, certificate of maintenance, import clearance, operator permits, authorization of R&D organization, and student remote pilot license.
The new draft rules propose to not link the fee with drone size and to reduce fees to nominal levels. The rules do not require any pilot license for micro drones (non-commercial), nano drones, and R&D organizations. There won’t be any ban on the use of drones by foreign-owned companies registered in India. Also, no security clearance will be required before any registration or license is issued.
The government plans to open what is known as the Digital Sky platform. Manufacturers will be able to use this platform for the certification process. Also from here, interactive airspace maps with green, yellow, and red zones will be accessible. Digital Sky will serve as a unified platform for users to obtain the mandatory registration number and remote pilot license. However it requires, people to check if the respective location comes under any restriction before flying their drone. The platform will be available under India’s aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
The central government may publish an airspace map for drone operations segregating the entire airspace of India into red, yellow, and green zones. This airspace map will be available on the digital sky platform, within 30 days of the date of notification of these rules. The zones will have segregation along with a horizontal resolution of equal to or finer than 10 meters. The zones will follow geofencing, which prohibits or limit the use of drones at some places. Places like regions close to an airport or over-sensitive military and VIP locations may become restricted areas.
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