Drones Become Easy to Own and Fly in India

by Ajay Prakash
Surveillance Drone

Drones are now easy to own and operate in India. The new rules are called the Drone Rules, 2021, and were notified by the Government of India on August 25, 2021.

As previously reported, India is set to become a multibillion-dollar market for drones applications. At that time, the government had published the draft Drone Rules 2021 and was seeking public opinion, and as expected, the response was overwhelming. In this case, the government has acted wisely and dramatically modified the existing rules in favour of the user community.

Much of the credit goes to the young minister Jyotiraditya Scindia for quickly pushing through this deregulation.

Here is an overview of the new rules that are now in effect.

Interactive Airspace Map

The government is publishing an interactive airspace map for unmanned aircraft system (drones) operations segregating the entire airspace of India into the red zone, yellow zone, and green zone, with a horizontal resolution equal or better than 10 metres.

The yellow zone has been reduced from 45km to 12km from the airport perimetre.

Flying Drones in Green Zones

Now, no permission is needed to operate drones in green zones.

Remote Pilot License

Persons operating drones have to get a remote pilot license, which will be administered by the Director-General of Civil Aviation. However, no license will be needed to operate a nano unmanned aircraft system and a micro unmanned aircraft system for non-commercial purposes.

Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management

The government will soon be publishing a policy framework regarding the Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management System on the digital sky platform.

Drone Rules 2021

1. The new rules are based on a premise of trust, self-certification, and non-intrusive monitoring.
2. Designed to usher in an era of super-normal growth while balancing safety and security considerations.
3. Number of forms reduced from 25 to 5.
4. Types of fees reduced from 72 to 4.
5. The fee has been drastically reduced and delinked with the size of the drone. For instance, the cost for a remote pilot license fee has been reduced from INR 3000 (USD 41) for large drones to INR 100 (USD 1.36) for all categories of drones, and is valid for ten years.
6. There will be no restriction on foreign ownership in Indian drone companies.
7. Requirement of import clearance from DGCA abolished.
8. Coverage of drones under Drone Rules, 2021 increased from 300kg to 500kg. This rule now covers drone taxis.
9. Maximum penalty for violations reduced to INR 100,000 (USD 1360).
10. The government will set up a drone promotion council with participation from academia, startups, and other stakeholders to facilitate a growth-oriented regulatory regime.

The Liberalised Drone Rules, 2021 will not only usher in a new era of economic growth but also create employment and help India become a global drone hub by 2030! – Ministry of Civil Aviation tweeted on August 28th.

With these new rules, the government has cleared the runway for drones. We now wait to see how the industry innovates and responds with newer applications.

Your comments are welcome below.

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