Civil Aviation Ministry Notifies Drone Rules 2021, Eases Down Several Processes

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The new rules were lauded by stakeholders for simplifying procedures and reducing the compliance burden to operate a drone in India

The Civil Aviation ministry has notified the new Drone Rules 2021 under which several approvals have been abolished and processes made easier. The new drone rules will replace the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Rules 2021, the government said in a Gazette notification.

The changes have been incorporated after the government sought comments from stakeholders and the industry.

“We’re going to ensure drone application in transportation, logistic, defence, mining, infrastructure sectors, and more. It will provide more jobs. Our aim is to make India a global drone hub by 2030,” Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said at a press conference today.

He added that currently there are around 200 startups that are part of the drone ecosystem in India and that there is a possibility that something similar to drone taxis is launched in India under the new drone policy.

Key Changes Made

Among the many changes made in the Drone Rules 2021, key points include– number of forms have been reduced from 25 to 5, coverage of drones have been increased from 300 kg to 500 kg to include heavy payload-carrying drones and drone taxis; and fee has been reduced to nominal levels.

Additionally, no security clearance will be required before any registration or licence issuance of a drone. Digital sky platform will be developed as a business-friendly single-window online system.

According to the Drone Rules 2021, operating drones without unique identification numbers will not be allowed, unless exempted. Drone operators will have to generate a unique identification number of a drone by providing requisite details on the digital sky platform.

Maximum penalty under Drone Rules, 2021 reduced to INR 1 lakh. This shall, however, not apply to penalties in respect of violation of other laws. Interactive airspace map with green, yellow, and red zones will be displayed on the digital sky platform.

No flight permission will be required up to 400 feet in green zones and up to 200 feet in the area between 8 and 12 km from the airport perimeter, the government said.

The rules have also prescribed easier processes for the transfer and deregistration of drones.

No pilot licence will be required for micro drones (for non-commercial use), nano drones and for R&D (research and development) organisations.

Drone corridors will be developed for cargo deliveries and a drone promotion council will be set up to facilitate a drone-friendly regulatory regime in the country, according to the rules.

The rules also stated that there would be no restriction on drone operations by foreign-owned companies registered in India.

Safety features like ‘No permission – no take-off’ (NPNT), real-time tracking beacon, geo-fencing etc. to be notified in future. A minimum six-month lead time will be provided for compliance.

The new rules were lauded by stakeholders for simplifying procedures and reducing the compliance burden to operate a drone in India.

This new development follows the conditional permission given by the government to 10 organisations, including Mahindra and Mahindra, to use drones for various purposes for a period of one year.

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