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Drone Regulations in India: Challenges and Opportunities

Updated: Feb 16, 2022

Understanding Drone Regulations in India

Challenges and Opportunities

India has been developing progressively their drone regulations. The first set of regulations came into effect from 1st December 2018 which stated various aspects such as classification, unique identification number for a drone, operator permit, flying restrictions, zones of flying, training and mandatory hardware requirements which a drone must suffice to fly in the indian airspace. This opened gates of opportunity for Indian manufacturers to showcase their skills and manufacturing power whereas on the other side lies the biggest challenge of the supply chain as the majority of the drone electronics parts are imported from outside.

The biggest opportunity here was making India self-dependent in drone manufacturing and turning it into a drone hub by making all the parts indigenously. But the challenge was the approval of the parts by the regulators, which is now solved by introducing the Quality Council of India.

The regulations aren't made to stop or restrict the capability of any manufacturer but are amended with a vision to secure the sky.

Regulations are necessary for safe merging of two ecosystems namely manned aircraft ecosystems and unmanned aircraft ecosystems and so we have height restrictions and zones to fly drones and a need for monitoring of live tracking of the drones. Here the challenge was the cost of equipment needed for live tracking of the drone and the resultant increase in the total take off weight.

The regulations have also laid down guidelines for manufacturing of NPNT technology, making it easy for manufacturers. The guidelines provide the parameters the drone needs to be NPNT-compliant and ways to achieve it.

The drone regulations in India have turned the informal business of drones to formal business. With the regulations being set up, currently most of the regulatory part of permission granting is done via an online platform named The Digital Sky, thus making the process easy and tamper proof.

With the Indian drone regulations, the import of drone parts have also been streamlined and has encouraged the manufacturers to develop sub-components within India, rather than depend on their imports.

The Indian skies are much safer after the drone regulations in India, and a smooth transaction and merger can happen between manned and unmanned aircraft ecosystems.

These drone regulations have also amended rules for the drone pilots to be trained at authorized flying schools, making them more responsible and skilful pilots which will proportionally make the skes safer.

To all the consumers buying new drones for any project in India, one should ensure that the drone is compliant to Indian regulations and is listed on the Digital Sky platform.

And to all the operators executing any type of projects should have the following:

  1. Approved RPAS: The RPAS used should be an RPAS which is approved by the Indian Regulators and should hold a valid Unique Identification Number (UIN)

  2. Permissions from the Digital Sky platform: The drone pilot before commencing the operation should fill a flight plan of the operation before commencement of operation.

  3. Unmanned Aircraft Operator’s Permit (UAOP): The service provider should have a valid Unmanned aircraft operator’s permit issued by the regulator.

  4. Trained RPAS Pilot: The drone pilot executing the operation should be a trained pilot from DGCA approved flying training organization.

  5. Insurance with 3rd party liability coverage: The service provider should make sure that there is a valid insurance coverage during the operation which should also cover third party liability.

  6. Local administration permission: The local administration should be intimated 24 hours prior to the commencement of operation and should take necessary permissions if required.

These carefully designed drone regulations for India have opened doors to safe and coordinated operations, as the regulators would now have precise information about which RPAS is flying, where it is operating and the maximum height at which the operation will be carried out are made available. This gives traceability of every drone operation to the regulators, as well as the drone service providers about the RPAS flying in the Indian Airspace.

Not complying to the regulations there are various IPCs that can be charged to the service provider or the pilot depending on the violation.

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