From December, flying drones will be legal in India

The regulations come as there is a growth in drone usage in the country for several purposes, which include photography and agricultural purposes. (DH File Photo/Janardhan B K)

A professional photographer can now use microdrones to shoot a wedding but will have to obtain a Unique Identification Number (UIN) from the authorities before embarking on such an assignment.

This and other regulations — which includes no-go zones and a security-vetted registration process where an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) needs to get UIN for drone operations — are part of the government’s first drone policy, which was unveiled on Monday.

The regulations come as there is a growth in drone usage in the country for several purposes, which include photography and agricultural purposes.

The photographer will not have to obtain Unmanned Aircraft Operators Permit (UAOP) if he is using a microdrone, which weighs between 250 grams and 2 kg, but will have to intimate the local police at least 24 hours prior to his assignment.

He also will have to take permission through the Digital Sky Platform, a first-of-its-kind national unmanned traffic management platform that implements “no permission, no takeoff”.

While all drone operations are restricted to daylight and within visual line of sight, a photographer can shoot in well-lit enclosed premises using a micro drone of up to 250 feet above ground level.

The latest Civil Aviation Requirement (CAR) on Requirements for Operation for Civil Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS), the draft of which was published in
November last year, which will come into effect on December 1.

Under the policy, drones are categorised into five based on its weight, from those weighing less than 250 grams to those above 150 kg.

While a nano drone weighing 250 grams does not need a UIN or Unmanned Aircraft Operators Permit (UAOP) if it is operated below 50 feet in an uncontrolled airspace, a microdrone weighing 250 grams to 2 kg will have to get a UIN but not UAOP.

However, if a drone is flown in a controlled airspace like near airport, nano drones will have to take UIN, UAOP and ensure that it is NPNT complaint.

Those operating a drone should be above 18 years, should have passed Class X exam in English and undergone training at a DGCA-approved flying training organisation.

While the regulations allow drones to be used for agricultural purposes, spraying of pesticides is not allowed.

Also, carriage of explosives, animal or human payload is not allowed in this instance.

One also needs to keep at least a 25 km-distance from the India-Pakistan and India-China international borders.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation calls these regulations Drone Regulation 1.0, with Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu announcing a committee under his deputy Jayant Sinha to work on Drone Regulation 2.0.

The 2.0 regulations will look into the certification of safe and controlled operation of drone hardware and software, airspace management through automated operations linked into overall airspace management framework and beyond visual-line-of-sight operations among other things.

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