Flying drones or Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) will be legal after December 1 with Director General of Civil Aviation’s (DGCA) new drone policy coming into effect.
The new policy called ‘Drone Regulations 1.0’ classifies a remotely piloted aircraft and delineates how they can be flown and sets the restrictions under which they will operate.
Ministry of Civil Aviation has defined drones as a technology platform that has wide-ranging application from photography to agriculture, from infrastructure asset management to insurance.
Drones range in size from very small and those that can carry multiple-kilograms of payload.
The DGCA has defined five different categories of drones:
Nano: Less than or equal to 250 grams
Micro: From 250 grams to 2kg
Small: From 2kg to 25kg
Medium: From 25kg to 150kg
Large: Greater than 150kg
Except for Nano drones, the rest would have to be registered and issued a unique identification number (UIN).
Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit (UAOP) – It is a permit required by the drone owners to fly them. It can be obtained from the Director General of Civil Aviation.
However, in the following cases, this permit isn’t required.
Nano drones operating below 50 feet in uncontrolled airspace.
Micro drones operating below 200 feet in uncontrolled airspace – but will need to inform local police 24 hours prior.
Drones owned and operated by National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO), Aviation Research Centre and Central Intelligence Agencies but only after intimating local police.
The UAOP will have to be issued by DGCA within seven working days of submission of the necessary documents. These UAOPs are not transferrable and shall be applicable for not more than five years.
All drone operations will have to be approved by Digital Sky Platform, which is a unique unmanned traffic management (UTM) system, that is expected to facilitate registration and licensing of drones and operators in addition to giving instant (online) clearances to operators for every flight.
Drones will only be allowed to fly during the day time and within the “visual line of sight”.
The regulation defines areas around airports, near the international border, Vijay Chowk in Delhi, State Secretariat Complex in state capitals, strategic locations and vital military installations as no drone zones.
Drones can also not fly near “permanent or temporary Prohibited, Restricted and Danger Areas” and eco-sensitive zones.
Lastly, as per the regulation, drones cannot be operated from a moving vehicle or aircraft.