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India’s new drone rules

  • Category
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    1st Sep, 2021

Context

  • The central government has notified the Drone Rules 2021, a much more liberalized regime for unmanned aircraft systems than what existed previously.

What is in the new rules?

  • Several requirements and approvals have been abolished and this isexpected to make drone operations simpler for civilian drone operators.
  • The total number of forms that were to be filled has been reducedfrom 25 to five.
  • The total number of fees that are to be paid before being able tooperate drones has been reduced from 72to just four.
  • The various approvals that were required, such as 
    • Unique authorization number
    • Unique prototype identification number
    • Certificate of manufacturing
  • Airworthiness, certificate of conformance, certificate ofmaintenance, import clearance, acceptance of existing drones, operator permit,authorization of R&D organization, student remote pilot licence, remotepilot instructor authorisation, and drone port authorization etc have been abolished.
  • The quantum of fees, which was earlier linked to the size ofdrones, has been reduced and delinked from the size. 
    • For example, the remote pilot license fee, which was Rs 3,000 for a large sizedrone, has been reduced to Rs 100 — which is the fee for all categories ofdrones.

Other various relaxations

  • The yellow zone, which was earlier a 45 km zone from the airport perimeter, has now been reduced to a 12 km zone, meaning that outside of a 12 km radius of an airport perimeter, it would be a green zone, where drone operators no longer need permission to fly.
  • It has been specified that coverage of drones has increased from 300 kilograms to 500 kilograms to include heavy payload-carrying drones and drone taxis.

Significance of the new rules:

  • It highlights the government’s intent to allow the use of drones while at the same time ensuring security from rogue drones through the anti-rogue drone framework that was announced in 2019.
  • The rules are based on the premise of trust and self-certification.
  • The Rules will tremendously help start-ups and our youth working in this sector. It will open up new possibilities for innovation & business.
  • It will help leverage India’s strengths in innovation, technology & engineering to make India a drone hub.
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