Centre eases rules of using drones, slashes fees

Centre eases rules of using drones, slashes fees, number of approvals

The coverage of drones under the new rules has been increased from 300 kg to 500 kg to include heavy payload-carrying drones

The airspace for drone operations has been divided into green, yellow and red zones. Credit: Reuters Photo

Government on Thursday unveiled new rules that provide for ease of using drones in India by abolishing certain approvals required, bringing down the number of forms from 25 to five and reducing entry barriers with Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying that it will open up "new possibilities" for innovation and business in the country.

The Drone Rules 2021, notified in the Gazette, also eased the formalities in use of drones for research and development by abolishing certain approvals required for research and educational institutions, start-ups recognised by Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) and drone manufacturers.

'Drone corridors' for goods delivery and an Unmanned Aircraft Systems Promotion Council to to promote development of technology and business are also envisaged in the new rules, which replaces Unmanned Aircraft System Rules, 2021 notified in March this year.

The coverage of drones under the new rules has been increased from 300 kg to 500 kg to include heavy payload-carrying drones and drone taxis.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the new rules usher in a landmark moment for this sector in India, as it will "open up new possibilities for innovation and business" and "help leverage  India’s strengths" in innovation, technology and engineering to make India a drone hub.

"The rules are based on the premise of trust and self-certification. Approvals, compliance requirements and entry barriers have been significantly reduced. The new Drone Rules will tremendously help start-ups and our youth working in this sector," he tweeted.
 

The airspace for drone operations has been divided into green, yellow and red zones. Drones could be operated only with prior permission in yellow and red zones.

No permission required for operating a drone in green zones and upto 200 feet in the area between 8 and 12 km from the airport perimeter. Yellow Zone has been reduced from 45 km to 12 km from the airport perimetre.

The new rules have abolished the requirement of several approvals like the need for unique authorisation number, certificate of maintenance, import clearance, operator permit, student remote pilot licence and drone port authorisation.

Types of fee have also been from 72 to four. The quantum of fee was reduced to nominal levels and delinked with size of drone -- for instance, the fee for a remote pilot license fee has been reduced from Rs 3000 (for large drone) to Rs 100 for all categories of drones and is valid for 10 years.

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The maximum penalty under the Drone Rules, 2021 has been reduced to Rs one lakh. However, it will not apply to penalties in respect of violation of other laws.

While the Directorate General of Foreign Trade will regulate the import of drones, the new rules have done away with the permission from Directorate General of Civil Aviation for importing drones.

All activities related to the management of drones will be through the 'Digital Sky Platform' developed and hosted by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) as a business-friendly single-window online system.

The rules said the Centre would in the next two months publish a policy framework in respect of the Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management System on the digital sky platform.

It is aimed at facilitating automated permissions as required under these rules and include the framework for developing corridors for safe and seamless transfer of goods by drones and provide clarity on the roles, powers and responsibilities of the state governments and Union Territory administrations.

No pilot licence will be required for micro drones (for non-commercial use), nano drones and for research and development organisations.

The rules also have abolished the requirement of several approvals like the need for unique authorisation number, certificate of maintenance, import permission, operator permit, student remote pilot licence and drone port authorisation.

 

 

Here are the key takeaways from Drone Rules, 2021:

* Approvals for the following have been abolished: unique authorisation number, unique prototype identification number, certificate of conformance, certificate of maintenance, operator permit, authorisation of R&D organisation, student remote pilot licence, remote pilot instructor authorisation, drone port authorisation, import permission for drone components.

* Coverage of drones have been increased from 300 kg to 500 kg to include heavy payload-carrying drones and drone taxis.

* Number of forms/permissions have been reduced from 25 to five.

*No security clearance will be required before any registration or licence issuance.

* Fees for permissions have been reduced to nominal levels.

* Maximum penalty under Drone Rules, 2021 has been reduced to Rs 1 lakh. This shall, however, not apply to penalties in respect of violation of other laws.

* Interactive airspace map with green, yellow, and red zones will be displayed on the digital sky platform.

* Yellow zone has been reduced from 45 km to 12 km from the airport perimeter.

* No permission will be required for operating a drone in green zones and upto 200 feet in the area between 8 and 12 km from the airport perimeter.

* Online registration of all drones shall happen through the Digital Sky Platform.

* Easy process has been prescribed for transfer and deregistration of drones.

* No pilot licence will be required for operating nano drones and micro drones for non-commercial use.

* Safety features like ‘No permission – no take-off’ (NPNT), real-time tracking beacon, geo-fencing etc will be notified in future. A minimum six-month lead time will be provided for compliance.

* All drone training and examination will be carried out by an authorised drone school. The DGCA shall prescribe training requirements, oversee drone schools and provide pilot licences online. 

* Type Certification of drones has been delegated to the Quality Council of India and certification entities authorised by it. 

* There will be no requirement of type certificate, unique identification number, prior permission and remote pilot licence for R&D entities.

* Import of drones will be regulated by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade.

* Drone corridors will be developed for cargo deliveries.

* Unmanned Aircraft Systems Promotion Council will be set up to facilitate a business-friendly regulatory regime

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