Civil Aviation

India notifies draft unmanned aircraft rules; provides for drone ports, corridors

Photo for Representation Only: Micro drone

New Delhi: India has notified a new set of draft rules for operating unmanned aircraft, making it mandatory for all drones to be registered with the civil aviation authorities and proposing penalties for violations, including license cancellation. Any objections or amendments to the notification should be sent to the authorities within 30 days.

In the 102-page notification, ‘Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Rules, 2020‘, issued on June 2, the Government of India also categorised the drones into three distinct denominations — Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS), Model RPAS, and Autonomous Unmanned Aircraft System.

The notification gave powers to Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to carry out the registrations to ensure easier restrictions can be imposed on their operations based on their threat perceptions and payload capacities. These categories were further divided into five classifications based on the payload of the drone.

The Nano classification will cover drones up to 250 gram in all-up weight including its payload; the Micro classification will cover those drones greater than 250 gram up to 2 kg; the Small classification will cover those above 2 kg up to 25 kg; the Medium classification will cover drones greater than 25 kg up to 150 kg; and the Large classification will cover those over 150 kg.

A Nano-class unmanned aircraft shall be regarded in the next higher category if it exceeds either the maximum speed in level flight limited to 15 meters/second or maximum attainable height limited to 15 metre and range limited to 100 metre from the remote pilot.

The notification also envisages establishment of drone ports and drone corridors based on requirements and the licensing for such facilities and its conditions will be done by the DGCA.

The rules shall apply to any drone registered in India; to persons owning or possessing or engaging in importing, manufacturing, trading, leasing, operating, transferring or maintaining the drone in India; and to the drones in India for the time being or operating over India skies.

Unless suspended, revoked or cancelled, an authorisation issued for a drone shall remain valid up to five years and can be renewed through application, provided all eligibility criteria is met by the applicant.

No drone or part or component shall be imported or manufactured in India unless ‘Certificate of Manufacture‘ is obtained. For import of a drone or part or component, the ‘Authorised UAS Importer‘ shall apply to the DGCA for clearance.

The owners and operators of a drone would have to acquire a ‘Unique Identification Number’ (UIN) and the drones are to fly only in permitted areas pre-identified on an online mapping platform.

No imported or manufactured drone other than a compliant one, as specified by the DGCA, shall be operated in India. The drone shall be operated only by an authorised person assisted by a qualified remote pilot, wherever applicable.

(Reading Suggestion: For English version, please go to Page 56 of the draft Rules)

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