Drone guidelines in India


All you drone pilots waiting to take a easy breath flying your dream machine check this out, how and what's there in rules for you !!!!

This is exciting new chapter for all drone enthusiasts here in India as DGCA ( Directorate General Civil Aviation has finally been out with latest guidelines for usage of drones in India. The 37 page draft is considered to be final and it seems to have been quite relaxing for drone pilots across India. As a matter of fact the drone flying guidelines are briefed up as below:

Categories of Drones as classified by DGCA For RPA 
( Remote Piloted Aircraft)

1) NANO any thing less then 250 grams, here its important to note that its inclusive of flying weight. You need no licence for flying indoors or in non restricted zones below ceiling limit of 50 feet.
2) Slightly bigger drones will be classified as ‘Micro’, and will weigh between 250 grams to 2kg.A Micro RPA however, operating below 200 feet in uncontrolled airspace or indoors does not need permission from the DGCA but you will need to inform local police 24 hours prior to operating the device.
3)If your drone weighs between 2kg to 25kg, it’ll be classified in the ‘Small’ category.License and permissions required as per guidelines.
4)The ‘Medium’ category drones will weigh between 25kg to 150kg. License and permissions required as per guidelines. 
5) The final category is called ‘Large’, for drones weighing more than 150kgLicense and permissions required as per guidelines.

Now from all of the above category 1 and 2 is where in all the interest lies for most of us.

So if you are planning to import a drone then check check ...all the popular drones that are commercially available in today's day are above 300 gms. The smallest of the lot is DJI spark which is fun little drone but you will need a licence from DGCA for that as well. There is the requirement to apply for import clearance from the DGCA and will require a Unique Identification Number (UIN), Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit (UAOP). This will be a part of the Digital Sky platform, for handling these applications and allotments. 

The policy mentions that for drones and unmanned air crafts that require DGCA permissions, those will be granted as the UAOP within 7 days of application, as long as all the documentation is complete. 

A Nano RPA, including drones, operating below 50 feet in uncontrolled airspace or indoors do not need to apply for permissions. A Micro RPA however, operating below 200 feet in uncontrolled airspace or indoors does not need permission from the DGCA but you will need to inform local police 24 hours prior to operating the device.

Some briefs about Hobby Drones

The policy further mentions, “Model aircraft (MTOW up to 2kg, without any payload) flown below 200 feet inside educational institution premises will not require UIN and/or UAOP. Aero-modellers/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.” The policy however does not specify is the police permission step needs to be taken only for RPAs and drones being used for commercial purposes only or for just any usage scenario including hobby use. This is some thing that so many hobbyists will be pleased at right ? even I am one of them.

It also mentions that when and how you can fly and operate these machines. The policy states that the RPAs can only be operated by someone more than 18-years of age, should have passed 10th exam in English language and undergone training as per the DGCA guidelines.

There are detailed do’s and don’ts guidelines for RPAs and drones, including that they can be operated during the daytime (specified as between sunrise and sunset), within Visual Line of Sight (VLOS) only, minimum ground visibility of 5 km and cloud ceiling not less than 450 m and no rain or thunderstorm. Point to mention here is that this is visible distance and not the flying ceiling horizontal and vertical.

There are clear guidelines about the no-fly zones. And that is an exhaustive list. Some inclusions:
1. Within a distance of 5 km from the perimeter of airports at Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Bengaluru and Hyderabad, within a distance of 3 km from the perimeter of any civil, private or defence airports, other than Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Bengaluru and Hyderabad.

2. Prohibited within 25km from international border which includes Line of Control (LoC), Line of Actual Control (LAC) and Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL).

3.Prohibited within beyond 500 m (horizontal) into sea from coast line provided the location of ground station is on fixed platform over land.

4. Prohibited within 3 km from perimeter of military installations/ facilities/ where military activities/ exercises are being carried out unless clearance is obtained from the local military installation/facility.

5. Prohibited within 5 km radius from Vijay Chowk in Delhi. However, this is subject to any additional conditions/ restrictions imposed by local law enforcement agencies/ authorities in view of the security.

6. Prohibited within 2 km from perimeter of strategic locations/ vital installations notified by Ministry of Home Affairs unless clearance is obtained from MHA.

7. Prohibited within 3 km from radius of State Secretariat Complex in State Capitals.

8.  Prohibited to fly from a mobile platform such as a moving vehicle like car, ship or aircraft.

9. Prohibited to fly over eco-sensitive zones around National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries notified by Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change without prior permission.

If the RPA that you are flying meets with an accident or causes any damage, the policy mentions that the RPA operators must have insurance with the liability that they might incur for any damage to third party resulting from the accident/incident. 

Any violations in the usage of drones will be considered breach of  the provisions of the Indian Penal Code and the Aircraft Act 1934 and may have to face prosecution under the law governing the same.

The new policy will come in to effect from 1st December 2018 and all detailed guidelines provided by DGCA can be found.

I will leave a link below so that you can directly go to PDF source of guidelines from DGCA as below:

I have tried to sum it up so that all those points that matter you the most, if you are hobbyist or professional consumer drone pilot or wanna use drone for recreational purposes.What do you think about this article do comment and do let me know your views.   

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