Know How To Operate Drones Lawfully In India

Now that the drones have become so much popular, it’s time to know the regulations that control the operation of these devises to avoid punishment or prosecution. To begin with, the regulations have already been in force since December 1, 2018. Instead of a simple paper-based process for registering and operating drones, the Government of 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) scheme. Registration mandatory Users will be required to do a one-time registration of their drones, pilots and owners. For every flight (save and except the nano category), users will be required to ask for permission to fly on a mobile app while an automated process either permits or denies the request on the spot. To prevent unauthorized flights and to ensure public safety, any drone without a digital permit to fly will 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.

Drone Regulation 1.0

The Union Minister of Civil Aviation Shri Suresh Prabhu, while announcing Drone Regulation 1.0 said that these regulations are intended to enable visual line-of-sight daytime-only and a maximum of 400 ft altitude operations. Air space has been partitioned into Red Zone (flying not permitted), Yellow Zone (controlled airspace), and Green Zone (automatic permission). 

Drone Regulation 2.0

Moving further, the Drone Task Force under the chairmanship of the Minister of State Shri Jayant  Sinha has provided draft recommendations for Drone Regulations 2.0. These regulations will examine, inter alia, 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,
  • Suggestions for modification of existing CAR (Civil Aviation Requirements) and/or new CARs.

Operational/ Procedural Requirements, vide Regulation 1.0

  • All RPAS except nano and those owned by NTRO, ARC and Central Intelligence Agencies are to be registered and issued with Unique Identification Number (UIN).
  • Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit (UAOP) shall be required for RPA operators except for nano RPAS operating below 50 ft., micro RPAS operating below 200 ft., and those owned by NTRO, ARC and Central Intelligence Agencies.
  • The mandatory equipment required for operation of RPAS except nano category are (a) GNSS (GPS), (b) Return-To-Home (RTH), (c) Anti-collision light, (d) ID-Plate, (e)  Flight controller with flight data logging capability, and (f) RF ID and SIM/ No-Permission No Take off (NPNT).

  As of now, RPAS are to operate within visual line of sight (VLoS), during day time only, and upto maximum400 ft. altitude. For flying in controlled Airspace, filing of flight plan and obtaining Air Defense Clearance (ADC) /Flight Information Centre (FIC) number shall be necessary.   No Drone Zones The regulation defines “No Drone Zones” around airports; near international border, Vijay Chowk in Delhi; State Secretariat Complex in State Capitals, strategic locations/vital and military installations; etc.   Enforcement Actions The enforcement actions include (a) suspension/ cancellation of UIN/ UAOP in case of violation of regulatory provisions, (b) actions as per relevant Sections of the Aircraft Act 1934, or Aircraft Rules, or any statutory provisions, and (c) penalties as applicable under  IPC sections (such as 287, 336, 337, 338, or any relevant section of IPC).