The Drone Rules
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), popularly known as drones, are permitted in India. India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) established a new drone policy on August 26, 2021, formalizing a draught regulation that was circulated earlier this summer. Based on public feedback, the government has decided to repeal the UAS Rules, 2021, and replace them with the liberalized Drone Rules, 2021.
The Civil Aviation Ministry recently approved significant adjustments to the country’s drone legislation. The government has enacted the Drone (Amendment) Rules, 2022, which specifies that a remote pilot certificate (formerly known as a licence) would not be necessary for non-commercial flying of small to medium size drones weighing up to 2kg.
Transportation, agriculture, defence, law enforcement, surveillance, and emergency response are just a few of the businesses that benefit from drones. In recent years, consumer interest has expanded as demand for aerial photography and a wide range of commercial applications has developed in India’s B2B sector.
Anyone can now fly a drone, but they must follow the guidelines laid forth by the Indian government, the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA), and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). Certain rules and regulations must be followed when flying a drone in India, which will be explained further in this article.
Permission to take off
Before learning about the licences needed to fly drones, it’s important to understand the many types of drones that the government has classified. They are as follows:
- Nano is defined as a mass of less than or equal to 250 grammes.
- Micro: less than or equal to 2 kg and greater than or equal to 250 grammes.
- Small: weighing more than 2 kilogrammes but less than or equal to 25 kilogrammes.
- Medium: weighing more than 25 kilogrammes but less than or equal to 150 kilogrammes.
- Extra-large: weighing more than 150 kg.
All drone operations must be done only after gaining prior authorisation from the Digital Sky online platform for a flight or series of flights, with the exception of the nano and micro categories, which are only for non-commercial usage. The 2022 rules specify that flying and operating small drones does not require a permit in the nano and micro category. Furthermore, the government is establishing drone routes to assist freight transportation.
Drone pilot’s certificate
Based on the Quality Council of India’s recommendation, the Central Government may define the criteria for obtaining a certificate of airworthiness for drones.
Drone flying in India no longer requires a type certificate, a unique identifying number, previous approval, or a remote pilot licence for research and development organisations. Furthermore, the Quality Council of India and other entities that have acquired authorization from the Quality Council of India will complete type certification of drones under the new standards.
Applicants can now apply for drone certification by filling out a single D-1 form and submitting it through Digital Sky. Take the following steps:
- Complete the form with your name, contact information, and GSTIN
- Provide specifics and supporting documentation for the prototype drone.
- Proof of payment of the charge
- Providing the certifying body with the prototype drone
Drone certification exemptions are defined in Rule 12 of the Drone Rules. It states that no certificate of airworthiness is necessary for the manufacture, importation, or operation of aircraft:
- a prototype drone for research and development;
- a prototype drone for acquiring an airworthiness certificate; and . a nano drone.
To fly a drone, you’ll need a remote pilot certificate.
A remote pilot licence is a licence granted to any natural person by an authorised remote pilot training organisation to operate a certain class or classes of drones. The modified regulations, on the other hand, replace the word certificate in the Drone Rules of 2021 with the word certificate.
A remote pilot licence is valid for 10 years and can be renewed for an additional ten years with each application for renewal. After acquiring a certificate of instruction and a skill test report from an authorised training provider, the DGCA will issue a remote pilot licence for a charge.
Previously, the government stipulated that a person may only fly drones after receiving instruction from an authorised DGCA-approved drone training facility in India and registering with Remote Pilot to get a “Pilot Identification number” and Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit (UAOP) (except the nano models). However, new laws say that those operating nano and micro drones (for non-commercial reasons only) do not need to be trained.
A remote pilot licence is available to the following natural persons:
- Must be at least eighteen and not more than 65 years old;
- Must have passed a recognised Board’s class tenth or equivalent examination; and
- Must have completed the training prescribed by the Director-General for the applicable class of remote pilot licence from an authorised remote pilot training organisation.
Although these are the most fundamental prerequisites for flying drones, the pilot must also be familiar with avionics, weather, wind speed, and other mechanics. Drone flying is growing more common as technology advances, and each industry has its own set of regulations.
The length of remote pilot licence training varies depending on the type of drone being used, but most courses run five to seven days.
In India, there are limits on the use of drones.
The following are the drone flight limitations in India.
- A micro-drone may not fly faster than 25 meters per second or higher than 60 metres above ground level (AGL).
- A tiny drone may not fly faster than 25 meters per second or higher than 120 metres above ground level.
- Drones that are medium or big must fly in accordance with the DGCA’s Operator Permit’s restrictions.
- Prohibited zones are fully off-limits, whilst restricted zones require the DGCA’s prior clearance.
According to the Civil Aviation Ministry’s website, an interactive airspace map depicting the three zones will be available:
- The colour yellow (controlled airspace).
- a shade of green (no permission required).
- The colour red (flying not permitted).
Drone operators can utilise these zones to identify where their unmanned aircraft systems can and cannot fly.
The yellow zone outside an airport perimeter has been reduced from a 45-kilometer radius to a 12-kilometer radius, signifying that drone operators no longer require authorization to fly outside of a 12-kilometer radius around an airport perimeter.
The green zone encompasses airspace up to 400 feet above ground level that has not been classified as a red or yellow zone, as well as airspace up to 200 feet above the region between 8 and 12 kilometres from an operating airport’s border.
Drone pilots and data security
The drone operator is responsible for any data obtained during a drone operation. To preserve or dispose of such data safely, you’ll need to follow the right protocols and have the right gear. You must also guarantee that any data gathered during operations is not shared with any third parties without the agreement of the individual to whom the data pertains.
The cost of acquiring a remote pilot licence for a drone
In India, the cost of acquiring a remote pilot licence for drones has dropped dramatically to pennies on the dollar. The price structure has also been decoupled from the size of the drone.
All varieties of drones must be registered for a charge of Rs 100 under the new legislation. The drone remote pilot licence will now be valid for 10 years and may be renewed for another ten years by submitting an application for renewal.
Indoor drone operations and swarms
Only drones in the Nano and Micro categories are allowed to fly in swarms or operate indoors. Swarm operations are only authorised in designated zones and under conditions approved by the DGCA. Drones of all sizes, small, medium, and big, should not be flown in confined locations.
2021 penalty for noncompliance with the Drone Rules
After hearing a person, the Director-General or an officer authorised by the Central Government, State Government, or Union Territory Administration may cancel or suspend any licence, certificate, authorisation, or approval granted under these rules if the Director-General or an officer authorised by the Central Government, State Government, or Union Territory Administration is satisfied that a person has contravened or failed to comply with the provisions of these rules.
Drone (Amendment) Rules, 2022: Major Changes
The Drone (Amendment) Rule, 2022 was enacted and passed by the Ministry of Civil Aviation on February 11, 2022. The following are the major changes to the prior rule:
- Drones in the micro category (just for non-commercial activities) will no longer require a remote pilot certificate.
- The words “during a period of thirty-one days occurring after the aforementioned date” shall be replaced with the words “on or before the thirty-first day of March, 2022” in Rule 16 for the registration of unmanned aircraft systems.
- Any person who owns an unmanned aircraft system that was built in India or imported into India on or before November 30, 2021, must register it and get a unique identification number by filling out Form D-2 and paying the relevant cost under Rule 46.
- Sub-rule (4) of Rule 34, which discusses the method for getting a remote pilot licence, has been removed.
- Under the Rule, the word “licence” has been replaced with the word “certificate” when it comes to Remote Pilot Training Organizations, Research, Development, and Testing.
- Forms D-1, D-2, D-3, D-4, and D-5 were also changed as a result of the revision.
While flying a drone in India is lawful, there is a risk of them malfunctioning and causing unintentional harm to others. As a consequence, it is necessary to regulate their ownership and usage.
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