With new drone policy in place, operators relieved

It came into effect on December 1, and is already making life easier for those who fly drones for business and pleasure

Nathaniel uses drones to make automobile ads. He is waiting to get his UIN number.

With a new drone policy in place, people can now obtain licences and fly drones legally.

Additional requirements are a unique identification number (UIN) and an unmanned aerial operator permit (UAOP), given by the Director General of Civil Aviation, Delhi.

Drones are allowed to fly only during the day and within the operator’s visual line of sight. The new policy came into effect on December 1.

“It is a very progressive set of regulations. It balances all kinds of players who would like to operate drones, from recreational to professional,” says Gokul Kumaravelu, lead, marketing, Skylark.

He says the rules will make flying easier for those genuinely interested in drones, both as a hobby and for business.

“As one who provides drone solutions, I now have more clarity when I approach a client,” he says. 

Many professionals, from miners to infrastructure planners, use drones for prospecting.

Nathaniel, social media influencer, feels the policy was long pending. “I went through all the drafts.... It makes perfect sense,” he says. He believes the government wants to encourage people to use the drone but at the same time, keep them out of the hands of the wrong sorts.

Nathaniel, who uses a drone for business, has got his registration done and is awaiting a UIN and an UAOP number.

“The process is like getting a driving license. One needs to pass a written and practical test to get a drone licence. In Karnataka, there are only two districts where one can appear for the test---Kodagu and Chitradurga,” he says. Nathaniel, who flew drones even before the policy came into place, says he always acted responsibly by informing the local authorities and getting written permission.

The rules can be improved: “Every time one wants to fly a drone, one needs to seek permission. It’s like taking permission every time you want to take your car out. The authorities need to do something about it.”

Privacy and wildlife concerns remain, though. Recently, British wildlife photographer Will Burrad-Lucas said, “Drones are no worse than a human cameraman in terms of wildlife disturbance and one who uses drones to capture wildlife should be more responsible and ethical.”

Echoing this, photographer Ashish Parmar says, “Drones should not be allowed inside a national park or sanctuary. Novices might get drones and try to get close-up pictures of animals, invading their comfort zone.”

Animals are spooked easily, and wildlife photography is always about giving space to the subject, he observes.

Where to get a licence

Tests are conducted in two districts in Karnataka: Kodagu and Chitradurga. The test is similar to a driving test. The authority that issues licences is the Directorate General of Civil Aviation.

Banned here

Areas around airports, international borders, military and eco-sensitive zones are no-drone zones.

Five types

Drones fall into five categories:

Nano (less than 250 grams)

Micro (Up to 2 kg)

Small (Up to 25 kg)

Medium (up to 150 kg)

Large (more than 150 kg)

Except for nano drones, all other categories need registration and a number.

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With new drone policy in place, operators relieved

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