The Civil Aviation Ministry in India has given the go ahead for drone flying in the country. “We are likely to go from travelling in auto rickshaws to air rickshaws. There is a wide range of application of drones, from disaster relief, surveillance, security monitoring, precision agriculture, precision logistics,” said Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha.
The commercial use of drones for agriculture, health and disaster relief will be permitted from December 1 under new regulations. However, delivery of payload, including food items, would not be allowed at the moment, the government said today. All civilian drone operations will be allowed to take place only during day time and flying will be restricted within visual line of sight which usually would be 450 metres, the regulation specifies.
The regulation also prohibits drones flying around airports, near international borders, near coast line, state secretariat complexes. Neither can drones operate in strategic locations, other vital and military installations nor around Vijay Chowk in the capital and definitely not be used for wedding photography.
Unveiling the regulations, Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu said, “Our progressive regulations will encourage a vast Made in India drone industry,” adding that the drone market is expected to touch $ 1 trillion in the coming years.
All drones except nano drones and those owned by National Technical Research Organisation and central intelligence agencies would be registered and be issued Unique Identification Number (UIN).
The registration process of the drones, will take place using the ‘digital sky platform’, connected to local police. The Digital Sky Platform is the first-of-its-kind national unmanned traffic management (UTM) platform that implements “no permission, no takeoff” (NPNT). For flying in controlled Airspace, filing of flight plan and obtaining Air Defence Clearance (ADC) /Flight Information Centre (FIC) number shall be necessary. Users of any nano drone, weighing less than 250 gram and flying up to 50 feet, are exempted from securing permission, including that from local police. But micro drones flying up to 200 feet and small drones flying over 450 feet and above are required to take police permission.
“To prevent unauthorized flights and to ensure public safety, any drone without a digital permit to fly will simply not be able to takeoff,” said a government statement.
Asked about the delivery of food items, Mr Sinha indicated the second set of regulations may allow their delivery based on outcome of tests. Drones cannot be used for spraying pesticides until specifically cleared and won’t be allowed to carry explosives, animals and human payload.
The government has identified 23 sites across the country where the drone technology will be put to extensive use to evaluate its further usage.
A drone task force under Mr Sinha’s chairmanship will prepare recommendations for drone Regulations 2.0.