India has started registration of Remotely Piloted Aerial Systems (RPAS), popularly known as drones on the Digital Sky Portal from December 1, 2018.
Nano drones in India can start flying legally whereas micro and above categories, operators and pilots are required to register on the Digital Sky Portal.
To get permissions to fly, RPAS operators or remote pilots will have to file a flight plan. Flying in the ‘green zones’ will require only intimation of the time and location of the flights via the portal or the app. Permissions will be required for flying in ‘yellow zones’ and flights will not be allowed in the ‘red zones’. Permission, if granted, will be available digitally on the portal.
The platform has begun accepting registrations of users. Payments for Unmanned Aerial Operator’s Permit (UAOP) and Unique Identification Numbers (UIN) will be accepted through the Bharat Kosh (bharatkosh.gov.in) portal.
If an RPAS does not have permission to fly, it will not be allowed to take-off under the policy of No-Permission-No-Takeoff (NPNT). This aspect of the portal is expected to be live soon. Existing drone operators are requested to contact their manufacturers for NPNT-compliant firmware upgrades and Equipment Type Approvals (ETA) from WPC Wing of DoT. Potential drone owners are required to buy NPNT-compliant RPAS. A point of contact in the WPC is available on the Digital Sky Website.
The Digital Sky Platform is built to evolve with the evolving needs of this rapidly changing industry. In the coming months, new features will be developed to ease the process of flying for users, and provide oversight to security agencies. Furthermore, it is envisioned that in the future Digital Sky Service Providers (DSPs) will be extending the functionality of the platform through Application Program Interfaces (APIs).
Minister of State for Civil Aviation, Jayant Sinha said, “Today, we have taken the first step towards our vision of seeing millions of drones fly in India. Drones are a frontier technology which has the potential to leapfrog India’s economic growth. This technology can greatly benefit our farmers, infrastructure entities like railways, roads, ports, mines and factories, sectors like insurance, photography, entertainment, etc.”
The Minister for Civil Aviation has constituted a task-force on the recommendation of Drone Policy 2.0 under the chairmanship of the Minister of State. This task-force which is expected to release their final report by the end of this year. Drone 2.0 framework for RPAS are expected to include regulatory architecture for autonomous flying, delivery via drones and beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) flights.