Central Government Notifies ‘Liberalized Drone Rules 2021’

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  • NET Web Desk

On Thursday, August 26, the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation has officially notified the  National Drone Policy.

The Liberalized Drone Rules 2021 will make it significantly easier for people and companies in the country to own and operate drones.

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), commonly known as drones, offer tremendous benefits to almost all sectors of the economy like – agriculture, mining, infrastructure, surveillance, emergency response, transportation, geo-spatial mapping, defence, and law enforcement etc.

Under this new drone policy, no security clearance is required before registration of license issuance.

Based on feedbacks received, the Government has decided to repeal the UAS Rules, 2021 and replace the same with the liberalised Drone Rules, 2021.

The number of forms or permissions has been reduced from 25 to just five.

No pilot licence will be required for operating nano drones and micro drones for non-commercial use.

While the fees for permissions have been reduced to nominal levels, the maximum penalty has been brought down to ₹1 lakh.

This will, however, not apply to penalties in respect of violation of other laws.

Meanwhile, the number of forms will be reduced from 25 to 5, and types of fee have been reduced from 72 to 4.

Quantum of fee have been reduced to nominal levels and de-linked with size of drone.

For instance, the fee for a remote pilot license fee has been reduced from INR 3000 (for large drone) to INR 100 for all categories of drones; and is valid for 10 years.

Digital sky platform shall be developed as a user-friendly single-window system. There will be minimal human interface and most permissions will be self-generated.

Interactive airspace map with green, yellow and red zones shall be displayed on the digital sky platform within 30 days of publication of these rules.

Besides, no permission will be required for operating drones in green zones. Green zone means the airspace upto a vertical distance of 400 feet or 120 metre that has not been designated as a red zone or yellow zone in the airspace map; and the airspace upto a vertical distance of 200 feet or 60 metre above the area located between a lateral distance of 8 and 12 kilometre from the perimeter of an operational airport.

Yellow zone have been reduced from 45 km to 12 km from the airport perimeter. No remote pilot licence will be required for micro drones (for non-commercial use) and nano drones.

There will be no requirement for security clearance before issuance of any registration or licence.

Furthermore, no requirement needed for Type Certificate, Unique Identification Number (UIN), and remote pilot licence by R&D entities operating drones in own or rented premises, located in a green zone.
No restriction on foreign ownership in Indian drone companies.

Import of drones will be regulated by Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT). Wherein, requirement of import clearance from Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has been abolished.

Coverage of drones under Drone Rules, 2021 increased from 300 kg to 500 kg. This will cover drone taxis also.

DGCA shall prescribe drone training requirements, oversee drone schools and provide pilot licences online.

Remote pilot licence will be issued by DGCA within 15 days of pilot receiving the remote pilot certificate from the authorised drone school through the digital sky platform.

Testing of drones for issuance of Type Certificate will be carried out by Quality Council of India or authorised testing entities.

Type Certificate from now on will be required only when a drone is to be operated in India. Importing and manufacturing drones purely for exports are exempted from type certification and UIN.

Nano and model drones (made for research or recreation purposes) are exempted from type certification.

Manufacturers and importers may generate their drones’ unique identification number on the digital sky platform through the self-certification route.

Easier process has now been specified for transfer and deregistration of drones through the digital sky platform.

Drones present in India on or before Nov 30, 2021 will be issued a unique identification number through the digital sky platform provided, they will have a Valid Drone Acknowledgement Number (DAN), a GST-paid invoice and are part of the list of DGCA-approved drones.

Standard operating procedures (SOP) and training procedure manuals (TPM) will be prescribed by DGCA on the digital sky platform for self-monitoring by users.

No approvals required unless there is a significant departure from the prescribed procedures.

Safety and security features like ‘No Permission – No Takeoff’ (NPNT), real-time tracking beacon, geo-fencing etc. to be notified in future.

Furthermore, a six-month lead time will be provided to the industry for compliance.
Drone corridors will also be developed for cargo deliveries.

Drone promotion council will be set up by Government with participation from academia, startups and other stakeholders to facilitate a growth-oriented regulatory regime.

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