Drones are the hottest category of photography and video gear in the market today. Practically everyone out there is fascinated by Drones today and there’s been a lot of activity in the Drones’ industry over the last couple of years — with new products coming out every few months and companies like DJI and GoPro making huge technological leaps when it comes to their products.
However, enthusiasts and professionals in India have been left hanging unsure about whether it makes sense purchasing or importing a drone in India. In fact, when it comes to flying one, there are a lot of rumors and uncertainties about the requirements for the same. The lack of well-defined laws and regulations has been a big hindrance here in India. Add to this the absolute cluelessness of the officials in-charge and we’ve got a mammoth industry pretty much stuck.
The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) has today released the draft regulations for use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles or Drones by civilians in India. The Union Minister for Civil Aviation in the Narendra Modi Government, Shri. Ashok Gajapathi Raju today posted on Twitter that it was “time for some exciting action in the sky” and that “[they]will issue” the draft regulations at 4:30 PM today. However, the minister did not tweet anything after that.
Time for some exciting action in the sky – we will issue draft regulations for use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (Drones) at 4:30 pm today.
— Ashok Gajapathi Raju (@Ashok_Gajapathi) November 1, 2017
Here at SharpShutter.co, we’ve been eagerly awaiting the same and since the minister never posted an update, we decided to do some digging of our own and found out the Drone Regulations in India and draft guidelines created by the Ministry of Civil Aviation today and posted by The Director General of Civil Aviation in India.
Draft Regulations for Drones in India
Note: These guidelines have been prepared and posted with the title Requirements for Operation of Civil Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS)
Here is the Introduction of the Drone Guidelines and Regulations Posted by DGCA today.
1.1 The Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) consists of an Unmanned Aircraft (UA), a Remote Pilot Station (RPS), Command and Control (C2) Link, the maintenance system and the operating personnel. Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA), autonomous aircraft and model aircraft are various sub-sets of UAS.
1.2 Civilian use of UAS includes but not limited to agriculture, damage assessment of property and life in areas affected with natural calamities, surveys (infrastructure monitoring including powerline facilities, ports, and pipelines; commercial photography; aerial mapping), etc. They are also increasingly proliferating into a recreational field and are likely to be used in many other domains.
1.3 UAS operations present problems to the regulator in terms of ensuring the safety of other users of airspace and persons on the ground. However, in view of technological advancements in UAS over the years and their increased civil applications, it has become necessary to develop regulations for operations of this activity.
1.4 This CAR is issued under the provisions of Rule 15A and Rule 133A of the Aircraft Rules, 1937 and it lays down requirements for obtaining Unique Identification Number (UIN), Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit (UAOP) and other operational requirements for civil Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS).
You can read the entire text of the drone regulations in India here. (EDIT: Link removed on request)
Category of Drones in India
The draft regulations specify the following categories or classifications of drones in India. The drones are classified based on their Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) as follows:
- Nano — Less than or equal to 250 grams.
- Micro — Greater than 250 grams and less than or equal to 2 kg.
- Mini — Greater than 2 kg and less than or equal to 25 kg.
- Small — Greater than 25 kg and less than or equal to 150 kg.
- Large — Greater than 150 kg.
Note: Model aircraft (MTOW upto 2kg, without any payload) flown below 200 ft inside educational institution premises will not require UIN and/or UAOP. Aero- modelers/recreational flyers under this category shall be fully responsible for its operation, safety and security. They shall inform the local police authorities before undertaking such activities even for indoor operation.
Some Observations about the Draft of the Drone Regulations in India
We’ve gone through the draft regulations in detail over the last hour so, and it has left us speechless. Some of the clauses and requirements mentioned in the draft are downright preposterous and absurd.
REQUIREMENTS FOR ISSUE OF UNIQUE IDENTIFICATION NUMBER (UIN)
- All civil RPA, except those indicated in Para 6.6 of this CAR, shall require to obtain Unique Identification Number (UIN) from DGCA.
Required Documents for the issue of UIN from DGCA:
a) Contact details of Operator with valid identity & address proof;
b) Purpose & area of operation;
c) Specification of RPAS (manufacturer name, type, model number, year of manufacture, weight and size, type of propulsion system, flying capabilities in terms of maximum endurance, range and height, etc. including details of equipment);
d) Details of compatible payload along with its weight and maximum weight carrying capacity of the RPAS;
e) Copy of RPA Flight Manual/Manufacturer s Operating Manual (as applicable);
f) Copy of Manufacturer s maintenance guidelines for RPA (as applicable);
g) Permission for all frequencies used in RPA operations from Department of Telecommunication (Wireless Planning and Coordination Wing);
h) Security Clearance from MHA in some cases.
i) Verification of character and antecedents of the remote pilot(s) from local sub-divisional police office.
UNMANNED AIRCRAFT OPERATOR PERMIT (UAOP)
All unmanned drones flying in India will require a UAOP, except if the Drone belongs to the:
- Nano category and is flying below 50 ft. above ground level in uncontrolled airspace or indoors.
- Micro category and is flying below 200 ft. above ground level in uncontrolled airspace and clear of any restricted airspace.
- All [drone]operators except Nano category drones shall inform the concerned local police authority in writing prior to commencing the operations.
- Irrespective of weight category, all [drone]operations are restricted to day operation and within Visual Line of Sight only.
The last point there effectively means that night-time flying of drones is not allowed. So forget those majestic shots of the city lights.
Here at SharpShutter.co, we are very glad to see the Ministry of Civil Aviation finally taking up the regulations seriously. This should have happened 2 years ago. That said, we still welcome these and look forward to the final regulations.
Let us know what you think of these draft regulations in the comments below.
[Featured Photo by Dose Media]