Government announces Drones Regulations 1.0 effective Dec. 2018

The Union Minister of Civil Aviation Suresh Prabhu has announced the Drone Regulations 1.0 which will enable safe and commercial usage of drones starting December 1, 2018.

Drone Regulations 1.0 are intended to enable visual line-of-sight daytime-only and a maximum of 400 feet altitude operations. Air space has been partitioned into Red Zone (flying not permitted), Yellow Zone (controlled airspace) and Green Zone (automatic permission).

Going forward, the Drone Task Force under the chairmanship of the Minister of State Jayant Sinha will provide draft recommendations for Drone Regulations 2.0 and will examine the following issues: Certification of safe and controlled operation of drone hardware and software; Air space management through automated operations linked into overall airspace management framework; Beyond visual-line-of-sight operations; Contribution to establishing global standards; and Suggestions for modifications of existing CARs and/or new CARs.

On this occasion, Suresh Prabhu said, “Today we start an exciting new chapter in India’s aviation history by allowing commercial use of drones. I am sure that many new and exciting applications will emerge that will propel India’s economy forward. Our progressive regulations will encourage a vast Made in India drone industry.”

The Minister of State Jayant Sinha said, “We want to establish a world-leading drone ecosystem. These regulations firmly place us among the global leaders. Our policy roadmap will certainly provide a strong impetus to all players in the drone ecosystem. We hope that these initiatives will enable us to create a vibrant new industry.”

Drones are a technology platform which has wide-ranging applications from photography to agriculture, from infrastructure asset maintenance to insurance. Drones range in size from very small and those that can carry multiple kilograms of payload.

Instead of simply digitizing a paper-based process for registering and operating drones, India has formulated an all-digital process. The Digital Sky Platform is the first-of-its-kind national unmanned traffic management (UTM) platform that implements “no permission, no takeoff” (NPNT). Users will be required to do a one-time registration of their drones, pilots and owners.

For every flight (exempted for the nano category), users will be required to ask for permission to fly on a mobile app and an automated process permits or denies the request instantly. To prevent unauthorized flights and to ensure public safety, any drone without a digital permit to fly will simply not be able to takeoff. The UTM operates as a traffic regulator in the drone airspace and coordinates closely with the defense and civilian air traffic controllers (ATCs) to ensure that drones remain on the approved flight paths.


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