Draft Drones Rules, 2021

News: The Ministry of Civil Aviation has unveiled the Draft Drone Rules, 2021 based on “trust, self-certification and non-intrusive monitoring”. The new rules would replace the existing Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Rules, notified in March, 2021.

Key Points
  • It aims to create a “digital sky platform”as a business-friendly single-window online system for procuring various approvals. There will be minimal human interface on the digital sky platform and most permissions will be self-generated.
  • Abolish the need for various approvals, including certificate of conformance, certificate of maintenance, import clearance, acceptance of existing drones, operator permit, authorisation of R&D organisation and student remote pilot licence. Fee reduced to nominal levels. No linkage with the size of the drone.
  • The government will be developing a digital sky platform that will have an interactive airspace map dividing the country intogreen, yellow, and red zones. It will provide a secure and a scalable platform that supports drone technology frameworks, such as NPNT (no permission, no take-off), designed to enable flight permission digitally and manage unmanned aircraft operations and traffic efficiently.
  • The draft rules reduced the airport perimeter from 45 km to 12 km. The rules state that no flight permissions would be required to flyupto 400 feet in green zones and upto 200 feet in the area between 8 and 12 km from the airport perimeter.
  • No pilot licence would be needed for micro dronesfor non-commercial use, nano drones and for R&D organisations. There would be no restriction on drone operations by foreign-owned companies registered in India.
  • The Ministry will also facilitate development of drone corridors for cargo deliveries and a drone promotion council will be set up to facilitate a business-friendly regulatory regime.
  • The draft rule also provides for safety features such as real-time tracking beacon, and geo-fencing, which are expected to be notified in future and a six-month lead time will be provided for compliance.
  • The coverage has beenincreased from 300 kg to 500 kg and will cover drone taxis, while the Issuance of Certificate of Airworthiness has been delegated to Quality Council of India and certification entities authorized by it.
  • The decision to liberalize the drone policy even after the recent drone incidents in Jammushowcases the government’s bold approach to promote the use of the drone and focus on the development of counter-drone technology to address the threat posed by rogue drones. The current draft is a welcome move and will go a long way in facilitating investments in drone technology in India.