After Jammu drone attack, Centre proposes new Drone rules, ‘use of Drones in India to become much easier’, says Centre’s Draft Rules

The Ministry Of Civil Aviation (MOCA) on Thursday released the latest draft of the Drone Rules, 2021 for public consultation, which will soon replace the UAS (Unmanned Aircraft System) Rules to be issued on March 12, 2021, the ministry said in a statement.

According to the draft Drone Rules 2021, operating drones without unique identification numbers will not be allowed unless they are exempted.

Drone operators will have to create a unique identification number for the drone, providing the required details on the digital Sky platform.

The Digital Sky Platform is an initiative to provide a secure and scalable platform that supports drone technology frameworks, such as NPNT (no permission, no takeoff), which is designed to enable them to fly permission digital licensing and efficiently manage unmanned ​drone operations and traffic.

The draft Drone Rules 2021 also includes security features such as real-time tracking beacon, and geo-fencing, which is expected to be notified in the future and provide a six-month lead time for compliance.

The Digital Sky platform will also be developed as a business-friendly single-window online system with minimal human intervention and most of the permissions will be self-generated.

The draft Drone Rules 2021 also states that the interactive aerospace map in green, yellow and red zones will be displayed on the Digital Sky platform.

While the Yellow Zone has been reduced from 45 km to 12 km from the nearest airport boundary, no flight permits are required up to 400 feet in the Green Zone and up to 200 feet in the area within 8 km and 12 km of the airport boundary.

Micro-drones, nano-drones used for non-commercial use, and similar drone operating research and development (R&D) organizations will not require a pilot’s license.

The draft Drone Rules 2021 further states:

1.There will be no restrictions on drone operations of foreign-owned companies registered in India.

2.Imports of drones and drone components will be controlled by DGFT.

3.Security clearance will not be required before any registration or license is issued.

4.And that R&D companies will not need air capability certificate, unique identification number, prior permission and remote pilot license.

Meanwhile, under the Drone Rules 2021, the coverage of drones has been increased from 300 kg to 500 kg and it will cover drone taxis, while the Certificate of Airworthiness has been submitted to the Quality Council of India and certification institutes have been given the authority to do so.

The MOCA will also facilitate the development of drone corridors for the delivery of cargo and a Drone Promotion Council will be set up to facilitate a business-friendly regulatory system.

MoCA added in the statement, the deadline for receiving public feedback is August 5.

Anjan Das Gupta, DSK Legal’s partner, said the recent incident at the Jammu Air Force Station has once again focused on the security and safety threats associated with drone operations.

Das Gupta also said; “The current draft is a welcome move and will go a long way in facilitating investments in drone technology in India. This is particularly interesting due to the fact that in spite of the recent security threat, the government went ahead and took cognizance of the feedback given by the stakeholders and pushed through this simplified legislation. This simplifies the process of registration and brings to the forefront concept light touch monitoring.”

Smit Shah, director of industry body Drone Federation of India said: “The Ministry of Civil Aviation’s decision to liberalize the drone policy even after the recent drone incidents in Jammu showcases 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.”

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