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10 Dec 2018, Edition - 1245, Monday

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Now fly your drones legally; here’s all you need to know


Flying drones or Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) will be legal after December 1 when Director General of Civil Aviation’s (DGCA) new drone policy will come into effect. The new policy called ‘Drone Regulations 1.0’ classifies a remotely piloted aircraft and delineates how they can be flown and sets the restrictions under which they will operate.

Definition of drones?

Ministry of Civil Aviation has defined drones as a technology platform that has wide-ranging application from photography to agriculture, from infrastructure asset management to insurance. Drones range in size from very small and those that can carry multiple-kilograms of payload.

The DGCA has defined five different categories of drones:

Nano : Less than or equal to 250 grams

Micro : From 250 grams to 2kg

Small : From 2kg to 25kg

Medium : From 25kg to 150kg

Large : Greater than 150kg

Except Nano drones, the rest would have to be registered and issued an unique identification number (UIN).

What is Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit (UAOP)?

UAOP is a permit required by the owners of the drones to fly them. It can be obtained from the Director General of Civil Aviation. However, in the following cases this permit isn’t required.

Nano drones operating below 50 feet in uncontrolled airspace.
Micro drones operating below 200 feet in uncontrolled airspace – but will need to inform local police 24 hours prior.
Drones owned and operated by National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO), Aviation Research Centre and Central Intelligence Agencies but only after intimating local police.
The UAOP will have to be issued by DGCA within seven working days of submission of the necessary documents. These UAOPs are not transferrable and shall be applicable for not more than five years.

How will the drones be operated?

To begin with, all drone operations will have to be approved by Digital Sky Platform. The Digital Sky Platform is a unique unmanned traffic management (UTM) system which is expected to facilitate registration and licensing of drones and operators in addition to giving instant (online) clearances to operators for every flight.

What are the Restrictions?

To begin with, drones will only be allowed to fly during the day time and within the “visual line of sight”.

The regulation defines areas around airports, near international border, Vijay Chowk in Delhi, State Secretariat Complex in state capitals, strategic locations and vital military installations as no drone zones. Drones can also not fly near “permanent or temporary Prohibited, Restricted and Danger Areas” and eco-sensitive zones.

Lastly, as per the regulation, drones cannot be operated from a moving vehicle or aircraft.