New Drone Policy: Regulation of Drone Technology in India

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Prominence of drones had gained momentum with its usage in capturing images from war zones, collecting intel for security agencies to videography at weddings and cricket matches. It is easily available at shops and over the internet. Even though its sale is legal, flying drone without permission is illegal in India. In order to fly drone over public property written permission from the local authorities is a prerequisite. It is generally prohibited to fly drones in crowded areas, near airports and near a military base.

Drones are unmanned aircraft controlled by remote human operators or by onboard computers. It is a pilot-less aircraft weighing in the range of 2 to 150 kilogram. The Department of Industry Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Ministry of commerce had list drones in the list of electronic aerospace and defense equipment which needs industrial license for manufacturing and production. The notification of 7th October, 2014 issued by the Government of India office of the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) put a restriction on the flying of unmanned aircraft systems and unmanned aerial vehicle for any individual, non-governmental agency or any other organisation in Indian civil airspace.

The regulation of drones are covered under the Aircraft Act, 1934 under which the DGCA had power to issue notice to the owner of the drones with regard to its operation, possession, usage etc. The Aircraft rules also provides for mandatory registration of the aircraft including drones, remotely piloted aircraft, unmanned free balloons etc. In order to fly drones documents relating to security clearance from the Bureau of Civil Aviation, details of remote pilot, permission of the land owner and the Air Navigation Services and third party accidental insurance is to be submitted to the authorities within 90 days.

Initially, drones were manufactured for the purpose of military and defense, but gradually its use increased to use for commercial purpose and capturing pictures and videography, which possessed security threat for the people. The unauthorised flying of the drones can call for offence punishable under IPC for negligent conduct on machinery, endangering life or persona safety of others, public nuisance, hurt, criminal trespass and infringing privacy of other people.

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Drone delivering pizza in Mumbai (Source: Google Images)

International Comparison:

Germany – Germany have stricter law in relation to the operation of drones. Permission are required to fly drones heavier than 5kg and to fly at night. Drones heavier than 25 kg are not allowed to fly. The drone should be inscribed with the name and address of owner. Pilot license for drones heavier than 2 Kg is required.

Unites States – In America the regulation is dependent on the basis of ‘fly for fun’ or ‘fly for work’. In fly for fun, the drone must not exceed 25 Kilograms. The operations are restricted to prior notification in the areas of airport and air traffic control tower. In fly for work category, above 25 kilogram and the pilot must have an experience of sixteen years and pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The maximum height allowed is 400 feet.

United Kingdom – The drones are divided in three categories A, B, C depending on its weight, technicality and operational environment. A is the lightest and simple while C category are the heaviest and complex. Category A weighs less than 7 kg, and does not require any certificate or license to fly, but the pilot needs to submit evidence of competency to fly it. Category B weighs between 7 to 150 Kg and it requires operational approval. The third category undergoes rigorous assessment and stricter operational approval. Partly autonomous operations of drones permitted with prior permissions.

France- In France there is not requirement of procuring permission for flying drone of less than 25 Kg, if the operation follow safe standards and is used for experimental and testing purpose, but the operation must be carried within the pilot’s line of sight.

The Drone Policy in India:

The technology installed in drone had brought forward some serious security and privacy infringement related issues. Under the new drone policy, all drones will be provided with a unique identification number issued from the office of DGCA. The number will be granted to Indian citizen, company or a body corporate registered and having principal business office in India. The policy obliges the ownership and control of drones to be in the hands of Indian nationals.  Other documentation need to avail drone includes address proof, clearance of character by police, statement of purpose and other details regarding the date, year, model of manufacture and range and height, weight etc.

In order to fly drone at or above 200 feet above ground the policy requires the operator to obtain a UA operator permit (UAOP) from the DGCA, and the one flying below that level need clearance from local authorities. The person flying must be above the age of 18 years and should have previous training equivalent or a private pilot license holder for any operation above 200 feet. In case of any accident the operator needs to mandatorily notify police, DGCA and the Director of Air Safety within 24 hours. The policy is therefore, a standard regulation inculcating every aspect to ensure a safe drone flight.

Once this policy is implemented drone could officially be used in delivering goods, traffic regulation, wildlife photography, inspection by insurance and oil and gas companies of sites and many other purposes.

Author: Anushtha Srivastava

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Anushtha is currently pursuing law from UPES, Dehradun. She is also a content writer with TA.


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