All You Wanted to Know About Drones in India

An exciting new chapter in India’s aviation history started effective December 1, 2018 with commencement of commercial usage of Drones, also known as UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) or RPAS ( (Remotely Piloted Aircraft System ) is a technology platform which has wide-ranging applications from Photography to Farming/Agriculture, from Infrastructure entities like Railways, Roads, Ports, Mines and Factories, sectors like Insurance, Entertainment, etc

Nano drones in India can now start flying legally without any registration while Micro and above categories, operators and pilots are required to register on the Digital Sky Portal.
The Ministry of Civil Aviation is focussed to establish a world leading drone ecosystem in India.  It has developed a Global standard drone regulations that permits and appropriates safeguards for the commercial application of various drone technologies.

Ministry has formulated an all-digital process for registering and operating drones. The Digital Sky Platform is the first-of-its-kind national Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) platform that implements “No Permission, No Takeoff” (NPNT).
Users are required to do a one-time registration of their drones, pilots and owners.
For every flight (exempted for the nano category), users will be required to ask for permission to fly on a mobile app and an automated process permits or denies the request instantly.
To prevent unauthorized flights and to ensure public safety, any drone without a digital permit to fly will simply not be able to takeoff. The UTM operates as a traffic regulator in the drone airspace and coordinates closely with the defense and civilian air traffic controllers (ATCs) to ensure that drones remain on the approved flight paths.

Drone Regulations 1.0 are intended to enable visual line-of-sight daytime-only and a maximum of 400 ft altitude operations. Air space has been partitioned into Red Zone (flying not permitted), Yellow Zone (controlled airspace), and Green Zone (automatic permission).

Drones Categorisation :
Drones range in size from very small and those that can carry multiple kilograms of payload.
As per the regulation,there are 5 categories of RPAS categorized by weight :
1) Nano 2) Micro 3) Small 4) Medium 5) Large

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Operations through Digital Platform :
Operations of RPAS need to be enabled through Digital Sky Platform. The RPAS operations are based on NPNT (No Permission, No Take off).
The platform is accepting registrations of users. Payments for Unmanned Aerial Operator’s Permit (UAOP) and Unique Identification Numbers (UIN) will be accepted through the Bharat Kosh portal :

There are different colour zones visible to the applicant while applying in the digital sky platform, viz,
1. Red Zone : Flying not permitted
2. Yellow Zone (controlled airspace): Permission required before flying
3. Green Zone (uncontrolled airspace): Automatic permission

To get permissions to fly, RPAS operators or remote pilots will have to file a flight plan. Flying in the ‘green zones’ will require only intimation of the time and location of the flights via the portal or the app.
Permission, if granted, will be available digitally on the portal.
If an RPAS does not have permission to fly, it will not be allowed to take-off under the policy of NoPermission-No-Takeoff (NPNT).
Existing drone operators are requested to contact their manufacturers for NPNT-compliant firmware upgrades & Equipment Type Approvals (ETA) from WPC Wing of DoT. Potential drone owners are required to buy NPNT-compliant RPAS. A point of contact in the WPC is available on the Digital Sky Website DGCA has released a list of Frequently Asked Questions as well as a list of Do’s & Don’ts for safe flying.

Operational/ Procedural Requirements :
All RPAS except Nano are supposed to be registered and issued with Unique Identification Number (UIN).
Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit (UAOP) shall be required for RPA operators except for :
a) Nano RPAS operating below 50 ft.  b) Micro RPAS operating below 200 ft.

The mandatory equipment required for operation of RPAS except Nano category are :
a) GNSS (GPS)   b) Return-To-Home (RTH)  c) Anti-collision light  d) ID-Plate
e) Flight controller with flight data logging capability   f) RF ID and SIM/ No-Permission No Take off (NPNT)

As of now, RPAS to operate within visual line of sight (VLoS), during day time only, and upto maximum400 ft. altitude.
For flying in controlled Airspace, filing of flight plan and obtaining Air Defence Clearance (ADC) /Flight Information Centre (FIC) number shall be necessary.

No Drone Zones :
The regulation defines “No Drone Zones” around airports;near international border, strategic locations/vital and military installations.

Enforcement Actions :
The enforcement actions are, (a) suspension/ cancellation of UIN/ UAOP in case of violation of regulatory provisions, (b) actions as per relevant Sections of the Aircraft Act 1934, or Aircraft Rules, or any statutory provisions, and (c) penalties as per applicable IPCs (such as 287, 336, 337, 338, or any relevant section of IPC).

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