India’s liberalised, new drone rules

On Thursday, the Civil Aviation Ministry eased the drone rules in India under a new liberalised policy. The Central Government declared that the Drone Rules 2021 were a much more liberalised regime for unmanned aircraft systems than what previously existed.

Under the new directives, a draft of which was released in July; several approvals and requirements have been dissolved. This is believed to make drone operations simpler for civilian operators. As per the notification, dated August 25, the ministry has reduced the number of forms required to operate the drones from 25 to 5. There was also a reduction in the types of fees charged from the operator from 72 to 4.

The new rules will initiate a landmark moment for the sector in India and are based on the assertion of trust and self-certification, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Exclusive: New drone rules to be opened for consultation on August 15

Given below are the key features of Drone Rules 2021-

Firstly, the number of forms have been reduced from 25 to five and the types of fees have decreased from 72 to just four.

The various approvals that were required previously, like unique authorisation number, certificate of manufacturing and airworthiness, unique prototype identification number,  import clearance,  remote pilot instructor authorisation, certificate of conformance, certificate of maintenance,student remote pilot licence, acceptance of existing drones, operator permit, authorisation of R&D organisation, and drone port authorisation etc. have now been abolished.

Additionally, the quantum of fees that was earlier linked to the size of drone has now been delinked from the size, along with a reduction in the fees. For instance, the remote pilot license fee, that was earlier fixed at Rs 3000 for a large size drone; has now been reduced to Rs 100, which the fees for all types of drones.

The Aviation Ministry mentioned that the Digital Sky platform that it envisaged earlier; will be developed as a single window platform for the purpose of clearances required. In addition to this, the platform will also display an interactive airspace map. The map will demarcate three zones- yellow, green and red. These zones will be displayed with a purpose to tell the drone operators about the areas where they can and cannot fly their aircraft systems.

In fact, the government has liberalised rules in these zones as well. For example, the yellow zone, which was previously a 45km zone from the airport perimeter; has now been reduced to 12km. This means that outside 12km of airport perimeter, it would be a green zone, where the operators will not require permission to fly.

The new Drone Rules will extensively aid start-ups and the youth operating in the sector. It will unfold new possibilities for business and innovation. It will help lift India’s strengths in innovation, engineering and technology to make India a drone hub, said PM Modi.

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