India’s Director General of Civil Aviation has announced the country’s policy for drones, effective December 1, 2018. The new policy defines and classifies drones, puts in place a permitting process for operators, and outlines flight restrictions.
The DGCA uses the term “remotely piloted aircraft” (RPA) to describe an unmanned aircraft piloted from a remote pilot station, differentiating them from model aircraft. Under the new regulations, RPAs will need a Unique Identification Number (UIN), Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit (UAOP) and follow flight rules.
The Nano Drone Category
In addition to a micro drone category – something that manufacturers have frequently requested (and been denied) in the U.S. – India has introduced a Nano category. Nano drone are exempt from import clearance and other requirements.
i) Nano : Less than or equal to 250 grams.
ii) Micro : From 250 grams to 2kg.
iii) Small : From 2kg to 25kg.
iv) Medium : From 25kg to 150kg.
v) Large : Greater than 150kg.
Most operators will require a permit (UAOP) but nano and micro drones flying low or inside are exempt, according to the following:
7.2 Following entities will not require UAOP:a) Nano RPA operating below 50 feet (15 m) AGL in uncontrolled airspace /enclosed premises.b) Micro RPA operating below 200 feet (60 m) AGL in uncontrolled airspace /enclosed premises. However, the user shall intimate [communicate] to local police office 24hours prior to conduct of actual operations.c) RPA owned and operated by the agencies as indicated in Para 6.5 of this CAR.However, the agency shall intimate [communicate with] local police office and concerned ATS Unitsprior to conduct of actual operations.
EQUIPMENT REQUIREMENTS11.1 All RPA (except for Nano category intending to operate up to 50 ft (15 m) AGLin uncontrolled airspace/ enclosed premises),shall be equipped with the followingserviceable components/ equipment:a) GNSS for horizontal and vertical position fixingb) Autonomous Flight Termination System or Return Home (RH) optionc) Flashing anti-collision strobe lightsd) RFID and GSM SIM Card/ NPNT compliant for APP based real time trackinge) Fire resistant identification plate inscribed with UINf) Flight controller with flight data logging capability
11.2 In addition to the equipment required under Para 11.1, all RPA (except Nanoand Micro category operating in uncontrolled airspace) intending to operate incontrolled airspace up to 400 feet (120 m) AGL shall be equipped with the followingadditional equipment/capabilities:a) SSR transponder (Mode ‘C’ or ‘S’) or ADS-B OUT equipmenta) Barometric equipment with capability for remote sub-scale settingb) Geo-fencing capabilityc) Detect and Avoid capability11.3 Remote pilot shall be equipped with communication facilities to establish twoway communication with the concerned ATS unit.11.4 The tracking system of the RPA shall be self-powered and tamper/ spoofingproof to ensure data relay even in the event of RPA accident.11.5 Indian Air Force shall monitor RPA movements in the country in coordinationwith Airports Authority of India.
No BVLOS Flight Yet – and No Drone Swarms
India’s new regulations specify daylight flight and flights within visual line of sight (VLOS) only. And no drone swarms: an operator may only operate one RPA at a time.
Most of the restrictions are familiar around the world. Drones must stay away from airports, borders, coasts and military installations. They must avoid sensitive government locations and parks and wildlife sanctuaries, and they cannot be operated from a moving vehicle, ship or aircraft.
The new restrictions may make it harder for commercial drone operators in India to get started – but they will make it much easier for large enterprise to adopt drone programs, with the rules clearly defined.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
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