Liberalized Drone Rules, 2021
Key Significance of the new Rules
Reduces Operational Complexities and Promotes Ease of Doing Business
- The new rules are premised on trust, self-regulation and non-intrusive monitoring rather than enforced regulation.
- Rules have been simplified by doing away with several unnecessary approvals (e.g. Unique Authorization Number, certificate of manufacturing and airworthiness etc.)
- Reduction in number of forms (from 25 to 5) and number of fee (from 72 to 4).
- Quantum of fee reduced to nominal levels and delinked with size of drones.
- For e.g. the fee for a remote pilot license has been reduced to INR 100 for all categories of drones; and is valid for 10 years.
- To promote minimum human interference, the rules provide for creation of a Digital Sky Platform
- It will serve as a business friendly single-window online system that allows for various approvals to be generated automatically for manufacturers, importers etc.
- 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.
- Max penalty for violation of the norms have been reduced to Rs 1 Lakh.
- Foreign investment and imports in the sector simplified-> No restriction on foreign ownership in Indian drone companies.
- Coverage of drones under drone rules 2021, increased from 300 kg to 500 kg. This will cover drone taxis as well.
- DGCA shall prescribe drone training requirements, oversee drone schools and provide pilot
Safety Measures Ensured
- The central government will also be notifying the safety measures to be installed on a drone.
- Some measures will include ‘No permission – no takeoff (NPNT), real-time tracking beacon, geo-fencing etc.
- A six-month lead time will be provided to industries for compliance.
- Drone corridors will be developed for cargo deliveries.
Institutional Mechanism to promote the sector
- Drone Promotion Council will be set up by government with participation from academia, startups and other stakeholders to facilitate a growth oriented regulatory regime.
Overall, these rules are expected to leverage India’s capability in innovation, technology and
engineering to develop India’s Drone Sector.
Concerns and Way Forward
- The rules are vague on privacy infringement and may need to be tweaked to ensure that privacy concerns are not violated.
- The DGCA would also face technical challenges in integrating unmanned aircraft systems into India’s National Unmanned aircraft system.
- With changes in technology, the drone regulation will need to change and hence this will necessarily remain a work in progress.
The new rules definitely spell good news for the Drone Industry in India. But at the same time government should remain flexible to bring changes as and when new challenges appear in the system.