The Drone Rules, 2021 replace the unmanned aircraft system rules, 2021
As per the recent notification with respect to section 5, sub-section (2) of section 10 and sections 10A, 10B and 12A of the Aircraft Act, 1934 issued by the Ministry of Civil Aviation, The Drone Rules 2021 shall be enforceable effective from 25.09.2021. The rules will replace the Unmanned Aircraft System Rules, 2021 issued on 12 March. With these rules in force now, Individuals and companies will find it easier and cheaper to own and operate drones in India.
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. Drones can be significant creators of employment and economic growth due to their reach, versatility, and ease of use, especially in India’s remote and inaccessible areas.
The Ministry of Civil Aviation has launched an interactive drone airspace map having red zones, yellow zones and green zones. A red zone that requires prior permission from Central Government to operate drone. Yellow zone signifies the area which requires prior permission from the concerned air traffic authority AAI, IAF, Navy, HAL.
Whereas Green zone signifies area that does not require prior permission for operating drones. Link to website
These rules shall apply to––
- all persons owning or possessing, or engaged in leasing, operating, transferring or maintaining an unmanned aircraft system in India;
- all unmanned aircraft systems that are registered in India; and
- all unmanned aircraft systems that are being operated for the time being, in or over India.
The provisions of the Aircraft Rules, 1937 do not apply to unmanned aircraft systems, except in the case of unmanned aircraft systems with a maximum weight of more than 500kg.
These rules shall not apply to an unmanned aircraft system belonging to, or used by, the naval, military or air forces of the Union of India.
KEY FEATURES OF DRONE RULES 2021
- Built on a premise of trust, self-certification and non-intrusive monitoring.
- Designed to usher in an era of super-normal growth while balancing safety and security considerations.
- Several approvals abolished: unique authorisation number, unique prototype identification number, certificate of manufacturing and airworthiness, certificate of conformance, certificate of maintenance, import clearance, acceptance of existing drones, operator permit, authorisation of R&D organisation, student remote pilot licence, remote pilot instructor authorisation, drone port authorisation etc.
- Number of forms reduced from 25 to 5.
- Types of fee reduced from 72 to 4.
- Quantum of fee reduced to nominal levels and delinked 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.
- No permission required for operating drones in green zones. Green zone means the airspace up to 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 up to 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 reduced from 45 km to 12 km from the airport perimeter.
- No remote pilot licence required for micro drones (for non-commercial use) and nano drones.
- No requirement for security clearance before issuance of any registration or licence.
- No requirement of Type Certificate, unique identification numberand 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 to be regulated by DGFT.
- Requirement of import clearance from DGCA 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 to 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 to be carried out by Quality Council of India or authorised testing entities.
- Type Certificate required only when a drone is to be operated in India. Importing and manufacturing drones purely for exports are exempt from type certification and unique identification number.
- Nano and model drones (made for research or recreation purposes) are exempt 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 specified for transfer and deregistration of drones through the digital sky platform.
- Drones present in India on or before 30 Nov 2021 will be issued a unique identification number through the digital sky platform provided, they have a 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.
- Maximum penalty for violations reduced to INR 1 lakh.
- Safety and security features like ‘No permission – no takeoff’ (NPNT), real-time tracking beacon, geo-fencing etc. to be notified in future. A six-month lead time will be provided to the industry for compliance.
- Drone corridors will be developed for cargo deliveries.
- Drone promotion council to be set up by Government with participation from academia, start-ups and other stakeholders to facilitate a growth-oriented regulatory regime.
This drone policy is dynamic. It will create a strong drone ecosystem in India. This policy will eliminate all unnecessary operational and entry barriers. In view of its traditional strengths in innovation, information technology, frugal engineering and huge domestic demand,India has the potential to be global drone hub by 2030.
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