Digital Sky Platform

  • Category
    Science & Technology
  • Published
    13th Dec, 2018

Context

  • Digital Sky Platform, as part of Civil Aviation Regulations (CAR), for registration of drones, pilots, and operators for online permission was recently launched.
  • Nano drones in India can start flying legally from now. 
  • For micro and above categories, operators and pilots are required to register on the Digital Sky Portal.

About

Civil Aviation Regulations (CAR):

  • In August 2018, Civil Aviation Regulations (CAR) was announced by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation to enable safe flying of RPAS in India.
  • The CAR detailed the obligations of operators, remote pilots/users and manufacturers for safe operations of RPAS and co-operative use of airspace.
  • CAR is for Remotely Piloted Aerial Systems (RPAS), popularly referred to as drones.
  • As per the regulation, there are 5 categories of RPAS categorized by weight, namely nano, micro, small, medium and large.
  • As of now, RPAS was allowed to operate within visual line of sight (VLoS), during day time only, and upto maximum400 ft. altitude.

Digital Sky Platform:

  • The platform has begun accepting registrations of users.
  • Payments for Unmanned Aerial Operator’s Permit (UAOP) and Unique Identification Numbers (UIN) will be accepted through the Bharat Kosh (bharatkosh.gov.in) portal. 
  • It is envisioned that in the future Digital Sky Service Providers (DSPs) will be extending the functionality of the platform through Application Program Interfaces (APIs). 

Significance for Drone users:

  • Existing drone operators and potential drone owners are required to buy No Permission-No-Takeoff (NPNT)-compliant RPAS.
  • The import of drones is now permitted as well.
  • To get permissions to fly, RPAS operators or remote pilots will have to file a flight plan.
  • Flying in the ‘green zones’ will require only intimation of the time and location of the flights via the portal or the app.
  • Permissions will be required for flying in ‘yellow zones’ and flights will not be allowed in the ‘red zones’.
  • Permission, if granted, will be available digitally on the portal.  
  • If an RPAS does not have permission to fly, it will not be allowed to take-off under the policy of (NPNT).

Why framing regulations took so long?

  • Drone technologies have been evolving very rapidly.
  • Many countries are still experimenting with their drone regulations and no ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) standards have been developed.
  • India’s security environment necessitates extra precautions.

Future of drones:

  • Drones offer low-cost, safe and quick aerial surveys for data collection.
  • This is useful for industries such as power, mining, realty, oil and gas exploration, railways and highways.
  • With big data and tools such as 3D modelling, businesses can simulate and analyse varied situations.
  • Drones can inspect tall structures and offshore rigs.
  • Relief, rescue work and policing can become more effective by using them.
  • They can be used for delivery of fertilizers in fields and to ship goods, a use e-commerce firms may be interested in.

Criticism:

  • Large-scale use of drones could give rise to concerns relating to privacy and security that policymakers may need to address.
  • As the government regulation does not allow drones that require registration to be operated out of sight, their adoption for commercial use may be initially limited.
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