India’s New Drone Policy (2018): Everything You Need To Know Before You Fly A Drone!


After a long confusion and ambiguity and after a couple of years of deliberation, earlier this year, the Director General of Civil Aviation drafted a drone policy in India to kickstart the era of drones in the country. The document named as, ‘Drone Regulation 1.0’, is all set to come into effect from December 1, 2018.


If you are a drone enthusiast or looking towards the commercial use of the drones, then it’s important that you understand exactly what the new policy defines what will be classified as remotely piloted aircraft and what are the various requirements and clearances required to operate them. Here we have tried to decode the all new the Drone Policy for you, so let's have a look:





Drone Categorization:

 

To make the things easier and simpler for the users, The ‘Drone Regulation 1.0’ has categories the drones into five different categories according to their weight.

1. Nano: Less than or equal to 250 grams.
2. Micro: From 250 grams to 2kg.
3. Small: From 2kg to 25kg.
4. Medium : From 25kg to 150kg.
5. Large: Greater than 150kg.


Things You Need to Know Before Flying a Drone:

 

1. The policy clearly says that the drone shall be flown only by someone over 18 years of age, having passed the 10th exam in English, and undergone ground/ practical training as approved by DGCA.

2. Every drone(except Nano Drone) that is intended to be flown in Indian airspace will have to obtain a unique identification number (UIN) or Unique Air Operator’s Permit (UAOP) from the aviation regulator or DGCA.

3. All categories of drones must be flown in the visual line of sight, and only during daytime.

4. No-fly zones: The Drone operations are restricted in “no-drone zones”.





Restrictions on Drone Usage in 'No-Drone Zones':

Restrictions on Drone Usage in 'No-Drone Zones': 

In order to ensure the national security, the government and the DGCA have listed 12 categories of “no-drone zones, where any activity of drones are forbidden.


  • In high-traffic airports of Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad, you aren't allowed to fly a drone within a radius of 5km from any civil, private, or defence airports.

  • For other Airports, the no-drone zone extends up to 3 km, i.e. you aren't allowed to fly a drone within a radius of 3km from any airport.

  • All the drone activities are prohibited within a distance of 25km of international borders, including the Line of Control(LOC), Line of Actual Control (LOAC) and Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL).

  • A drone can’t be flown within a range of 5km from Vijay Chowk in Delhi.

  • A drone can’t be flown within a range of 2 km from the perimeter of strategic locations and vital installations notified by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

  • You can't fly a drone within a range of 3 km from any military facilities or installations or any secretariat complexes in state capitals.

  • You can't fly a drone from a mobile or moving platform such as a moving vehicle, ship or aircraft.

  • You can't fly a drone within permanent or temporary Prohibited, Restricted, and Danger Areas.







How to Register a Drone?

In order to fly in the Indian airspace, it is mandatory for each and every drone(except nano drones) to obtain a unique identification number (UIN) from the aviation regulator or DGCA. The UIN is similar to the registration number for a car, which must be displayed on the aircraft. 

 


The UIN will be issued once, against a one-time fee of Rs. 1000. In order to get a UIN, the persons must be a citizen of India, no UIN will be issued to a foreign citizen or entity.


However, certain drone types and agencies do not need to get any registrations if,

  • You’re using a Nano drone (weight less than or equal to 250 grams) and are flying it under a limit height of 50 feet.

  • Drones are owned and operated by the NTRO, ARC, and Central Intelligence Agencies.



How to Register a pilot?

According to the new drone policy, the person who wants to fly a drone needs to get a permit as well, which is technically named as, 'Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit’ or ‘UAOP’, similar to a driver’s license. The permit will cost Rs 25,000 and will be valid for five years. The Renewals of the permit will cost Rs 10,000.




However, here too, certain users will not be required to obtain a Unique Air Operator’s Permit (UAOP)and only users with bigger drones will be required to obtain a Unique Air Operator’s Permit.


Who Doesn’t Need Unique Air Operator’s Permit?


  • The users flying a Nano drone under 50 feet and users flying a Micro drone under 200 feet, don’t need to get the Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit.

  • However, flying a Micro drone under 200 feet, need to inform local police 24 hours prior and also need to get the Unique Identification Number for the drone itself.

  • Drones owned and operated by the NTRO, ARC, and Central Intelligence Agencies also don’t need to get permits.


The UIN and UAOP can be obtained from the online platform Digital Sky that will go live on December 1. According to the DGCA officials, the permits will be issued within a week.




Mandatory Features Your Drones Should be Equipped with:

According to India Drone Policy, in order to fly a drone in India, your drone should be equipped with certain mandatory safety features. 

 

Here are all the features your drone needs to be equipped with in order to fly in the Indian airspace:

  • Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) should be available on the drone, except for Nano category Drone.
 
  • The drone should be equipped with flashing anti-collision lights.
 
  • The drone should be equipped with radio-frequency identification (RFID) and GSM SIM card, with a software that ensures ‘no-permission, no-takeoff’ feature.

  • The drone should have a Return to Home feature.
 
  • The drone should have a fire resistant ID plate with the registration number on it.
 
  • The drone should have a flight controller with flight data logging capability.

Besides this, any drone that is going to be used in controlled airspace upto a height of 400 meters, needs to have the following additional features as well:

  • SSR transponder
  • Barometric equipment
  • Geo-fencing capability
  • Detect and avoid capability.

Along with these features, the operator has to file a flight plan and inform the local police before flying a Small or bigger drone at a height of 400 ft or above.


However, the above conditions don’t apply to Nano and Micro drones flying in uncontrolled airspace as long as they stay under 50 feet and 200 feet respectively. Above those limits, even these drones will also need to have the features and permits mentioned above.



The new Drone policies will be coming into effect in India from December 1, 2018, so if you’re looking to fly a drone in the country, make sure you follow all the rules and regulations laid down by the government and DGCA and don't forgot to get your drone registered, and get yourself a permit to fly drones in India. 

Also, keep in mind not to break any laws and follow the restrictions mentioned else you may find out yourself in legal trouble. However, as long as you follow the rules, and your drone is registered, you should have no issues flying the drone around the country. So, get ready to enjoy flying your drone in the country.


If you are interested to read the entire document on the new drone regulations, you can find the full list of the regulations right here.



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