Ministry of Civil Aviation notifies Drone Rules, 2021

The all-up weight of an unmanned aircraft system has been increased from 300 kg to 500 kg

The Ministry of Civil Aviation has notified the Drone Rules, 2021, under which the coverage of all-up weight of an unmanned aircraft system has been increased from 300 kg to 500 kg to include heavy payload-carrying drones and drone taxis.

Under the new rules, no security clearance will be required before any registration or licence issuance for drones. The number of forms or permissions has been reduced from 25 to just five. No pilot licence will be required for operating nano drones and micro drones for non-commercial use.

While the fees for permissions have been reduced to nominal levels, the maximum penalty has been brought down to ₹1 lakh. This will, however, not apply to penalties in respect of violation of other laws.

The type certification of drones has been delegated to the Quality Council of India and certification entities authorised by it. The Director General or an entity authorised by it, on the recommendation of the Quality Council of India or an authorised testing entity, will issue a type certificate for any particular type of unmanned aircraft system.

There will be no need for type certificate, unique identification number, prior permission and remote pilot licence for Research & Development entities.

Online registration

The online registration of all drones will happen through the Digital Sky Platform. The prescribed process for the transfer and de-registration of drones has also been made easy. The existing drones in the country can also be regularised.

An interactive airspace map with green, yellow, and red zones will be displayed on the Digital Sky Platform. The yellow zone has been reduced from 45 km to 12 km from the airport perimeter. No permission will be required for operating a drone in the green zones and up to 200 feet in the area between eight and 12 km from the airport perimeter.

As part of the safety features such as ‘no permission-no take-off’, real-time tracking beacon, geo-fencing, etc., will have to be notified to the competent authority. A minimum six-month lead time will be given for compliance.

No individual other than a holder of a valid remote pilot licence enlisted on the Digital Sky Platform is allowed to operate a drone covered under the Rules. All the drone training and examination will be conducted by an authorised drone school. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation will prescribe the training requirements, oversee the schools and provide pilot licences online.

Unmanned Aircraft Systems Promotion Council

The import of drones will to be regulated by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade. Drone corridors will be developed for cargo deliveries. An Unmanned Aircraft Systems Promotion Council will be set up to facilitate a business-friendly regulatory regime.

The Central government will, on the recommendation of the Quality Council of India, specify the standards for obtaining a type certificate for unmanned aircraft systems and such standards will promote the use of made-in-India technologies, designs, components and unmanned aircraft systems; and Indian regional navigation satellite system, namely, Navigation with Indian Constellation.

Carriage of arms, ammunition, explosives and military stores, etc, on drones has been prohibited.

“No person shall carry dangerous goods on unmanned aircraft unless such operation is in compliance with the Aircraft (Carriage of Dangerous Goods) Rules, 2003,…no later than 48 hours after an accident involving an unmanned aircraft system takes place, the remote pilot of such unmanned aircraft system shall report the accident to the Director General though the Digital Sky Platform,” said the notification.

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