Are you wondering whether you can fly a drone in India or not? If yes? Then how? Where to apply to get a drone license? This article is going to answer all your queries.
A drone is an unpiloted aircraft guided by a remote controller. Drones are also termed as Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS), or Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS). India used its first military drone during the 1999 Kargil war where Israel supplied IAI Heron and Searcher drones. India’s Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) has developed domestic Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) DRDO Lakshya, DRDO Nishant, etc. all aerial vehicles are governed by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in India.
In 2014, the Indian government suddenly imposed a ban on the use of civil drones when a Mumbai based Pizzeria used an unmanned vehicle to drop pizzas to its customer. This move harmed the emergence of the domestic drone industry, which China utilized very wisely. Over the years, India has understood the importance of drones in the global market and since then India is trying to make new laws and regulations to monitor drone activities.
Even though it is legal to fly a drone in India, there are certain laws and regulations that the pilot has to abide by in order to stay away from any hassle.
Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) of India has laid down five categories for drones.
1. Nano drones – less or equal to 250gms
2. Microdrones – 250gms to 2kg
3. Small drones – 2kg to 25kg
4. Medium drones – 25kg to 150kg
5. Larger drones – more than 150kg
If a person is planning to fly a drone, the first thing the person has to do is registering himself/herself in Digital Sky Portal after purchasing a drone. The government has designed this portal. Every person who owns a drone needs to register in the portal.
Digital Sky Platform has divided the airspace into three categories: Red, Yellow, and Green. Red means no-fly zone, which includes airspace of international borders, airports, and some strategic locations. Yellow means a restricted zone that requires Air Defence Clearance/ Flight Information Centre (FIC) number from Air Traffic Control. Green is the unrestricted zone, but still one needs to procure permission from the Digital Sky Platform.
· One needs to be at least 18 years old to own a drone; otherwise, Digital Sky will decline the form.
· No foreigner is allowed to own a drone in India.
· In the case of companies, their main place of business has to be in India, and the chairperson and the two-third of the directors need to Indian citizens.
· Business operating drones need to be owned and operated by only Indian nationals.
· Ownership of a drone without a valid Drone Acknowledgement Number (DAN) and Ownership Acknowledgement Number (OAN) is an offense liable for penal action.
· As per section 3 of Air Transport Series X, Part I, Issue I, (27.08.2018) acquirement of DAN or OAN is not sufficient. It needs to comply with the Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR)
· The owner needs to issue the Unique Identification Number (UIN) from DGCA. The number needs to be carved on a fire-resistant plate and should be pasted on the drone.
UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEM (UAS) RULES, 2020
The Ministry of Civil Aviation has published the draft Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Rules, 2020 on 4th June. This step is a great effort for the drone industry and will be a great contribution to the Indian Economy.
· Only an authorized manufacturer or importer of drones can sell its devices that too only to an individual who is approved by the aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
· Only Nano drones are allowed to operate in India. Nano drones are exempted from registration on Digital Sky.
· No UAS shall be allowed to operate unless there is a valid third party insurance policy that will cover liability, which may arise in the future.
· Drones are not allowed for any kind of delivery. The draft said: “No Unmanned Aircraft [drone] shall carry any payload, save, as specified by the Director-General
· The draft said: No UAS should carry any payload except as permitted by the DGCA. ”. Therefore, there is a possibility that later on, it may allow drones to carry out such work.
· It is mandatory for every drone to come with a maintenance manual containing all the required procedures necessary for the maintenance of the drone.
NO PERMISSION NO TAKE OFF (NPNT)
The drone needs to be configured with software/hardware in such a manner that unless Digital Sky gives regulatory permission it cannot fly. This protocol is mandatory for all drones except Nano drones. The manufacture should own a license by DGCA to sell drones.
QUALIFIED REMOTE PILOTS
According to the Draft UAS Rules, no person other than the qualified remote pilots are allowed to operate a Micro UAS. One does not need QRP for Nano UAS. Eligibility criteria for QRP is that the applicant should be 18 years old, passed 10th standard, and must have acquired proper training as per the UAS Rules.
For a higher category for UAS, the qualified remote pilot must have a valid remote pilot license (RPL).
DGCA has permitted eleven institutes in the country to carry out pilot training programs. Some of these are the Bombay Flying Club in Mumbai, Telangana State Aviation Academy, GATI, Bhubaneswar, Falcon Flying Academy, Faizabad (UP), Asia Pacific Flight Training Academy.
The usage of UAVs is increasing as the technology itself is getting more advanced.