Drone Policy 2021 – Its Implications

Drone Policy 2021 – Its Implications

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In March 2021, the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) published the UAS Rules, 2021. They were perceived by academia, Start-ups, end-users, and other stakeholders as being restrictive in nature as they involved considerable paperwork, required permissions for every drone flight and very few “free to fly” green zones were available. Based on the feedback, the Government has decided to repeal the UAS Rules, 2021 and replace the same with the liberalised Drone Rules, 2021.

Designed to usher in an era of super-normal growth while balancing safety and security considerations. Several approvals abolished: unique authorisation number, unique prototype identification number, certificate of manufacturing and airworthiness, certificate of conformance, certificate of maintenance, import clearance, acceptance of existing drones, operator permit, authorisation of R&D organisation, student remote pilot licence, remote pilot instructor authorisation, drone port authorisation etc.

Digital sky platform shall be developed as a user-friendly single-window system. There will be minimal human interface and most permissions will be self-generated. Interactive airspace map with green, yellow, and red zones shall be displayed on the digital sky platform within 30 days of publication of these rules.

No permission required for operating drones in green zones.  Green zone means the airspace upto a vertical distance of 400 feet or 120 metre that has not been designated as a red zone or yellow zone in the airspace map; and the airspace upto a vertical distance of 200 feet or 60 metre above the area located between a lateral distance of 8 and 12 kilometre from the perimeter of an operational airport.

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), commonly known as drones, offer tremendous benefits to almost all sectors of the economy like – agriculture, mining, infrastructure, surveillance, emergency response, transportation, geo-spatial mapping, defence, and law enforcement etc. Drones can be significant creators of employment and economic growth due to their reach, versatility, and ease of use, especially in India’s remote and inaccessible areas.

In view of its traditional strengths in innovation, information technology, frugal engineering and huge domestic demand, India has the potential to be global drone hub by 2030.