Ministry of Civil Aviation on 27 August 2018 has released requirements for operation of Civil Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) also referred to as drones. The requirements shall come into force from 01 December 2018. These drone regulations currently permit the use of drones for mapping, remote sensing, surveying, R & D and photography only.
Any entity intending to import RPAS in India is required to obtain Equipment Type Approval (ETA) from WPC Wing, Department of Telecommunication for operating in de-licensed frequency band(s). Such approval shall be valid for a particular make and model. All drone activities will be monitored on a first-of-its-kind national unmanned traffic management platform known as Digital Sky.
Drone Regulations in India:
- Drones are categorized into following categories based on weight (including payload):
Drone Classification Weight Nano Less than or equal to 250 grams Micro Greater than 250 grams and less than or equal 2 Kg Small Greater than 2 kg and less than or equal to 25 kg Medium Greater than 25 kg and less than or equal to 150 kg Heavy Greater than 150 kg
Drone License Conditions:
- Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit (UAOP) shall be required for flying drones except for nano drones operating below 50 ft., micro drones operating below 200 ft. UAOP is issued to eligible operators on a fee of Rs. 25,000/- and is valid for five years. UAOP can be renewed by paying a fee of Rs 10,000/-.
- Unique Identification Number (UIN) is issued for a fee of Rs. 1,000/-. A remote pilot license is issued to anyone above the age of 18 years having passed 10th exam in English, and undergone 35 hours of practical training from recognised Flying Training Organisation.
- Drones currently are permitted to operate within visual line of sight, during daytime only, and up to a maximum 400 ft. altitude.
- The mandatory equipment required for operation of drones except nano category are: (a) in-built GPS facility, (b) Return-To-Home (RTH) facility, (c) Anti-collision light, (d) ID-Plate, (e) Flight controller with flight data logging capability, and (f) RF ID and SIM / No-Permission No Take off (NPNT).
- For flying in controlled airspace, the filing of a flight plan and obtaining Air Defence Clearance (ADC) / Flight Information Centre (FIC) number shall be necessary.
- Minimum manufacturing standards and training requirements of remote pilots have been specified in the regulations.
- Users will be required to obtain a UIN for their drones on the Digital Sky mobile app and for every flight (except for the nano category) users must seek permission to fly through the app. An automated permission process permits or denies the request instantly.
- The country will be divided into colour zones visible to the applicant while applying through the digital sky platform, viz., Red Zone: flying not permitted, Yellow Zone (controlled airspace): permission required before flying, and Green Zone (uncontrolled airspace): automatic permission.
- “No Drone Zones” are defined as areas around airports, areas within 25km from international border which includes Line of Control (LoC), Line of Actual Control (LAC) and Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL), Vijay Chowk in Delhi; state secretariat complex in state capitals, vital military installations; etc.
- All drones operators are required to have drone insurance with the liability that they might
incur for any damage to a third party resulting from the accident/incident.
- All drone operators shall prepare Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), which shall contain following procedures according to the provisions contained in relevant sections of Aeronautical Information Publication – India.
Drone Regulations in India: Legal Obligations
- A license to operate a drone doesn’t confer a drone operator any right against the owner or resident of any land or building or over which the operations are conducted and absolve the operator/ remote pilot from compliance with any other regulatory requirement, which may exist under the State or local law.
Drone Regulations: Punishments
- Violation of these rules shall attract penalties under Aircraft Act 1934, or Aircraft Rules, or any statutory provisions, and criminal punishment as per applicable IPC sections such as 287, 336, 337, 338. Earlier in a few instances, drone pilots were booked under section 188 of Indian Penal Code, section 11 (penalty for flying so as to cause danger) of Aircraft Act, 1934. Similarly, in October 2016, drone operators were booked under sections 188, 336, and 287 of the Indian Penal Code when they tried to fly a drone near the vicinity of Mumbai international airport.
- In case of violation of provisions of the approved operating conditions, the UIN/ UAOP issued by DGCA shall be suspended/ cancelled.