India’s new Draft Drone Rules, 2021 Explained
Jammu’s Air Force base was attacked on the intervening night of 26-27 June of the year 2021. Two Airforce personnel got injured. The initial assessment done, revealed the use of drones to attack the base. A drone is an unmanned aerial vehicle. It is operated through a remote. They are now increasingly being used by defence forces to target any anti-aircraft practice etc. to now being used to attack.
The attack on the Jammu’s Air Force base is perhaps a first of its kind drone attack on any country’s defence establishment.
Two explosives were dropped by the low-flying drones. They were operated from a place near to the place of attack. After dropping the explosives, the drones flew to where they came from. The situation is still continuously monitored. Following this, drones were also banned in Srinagar.
Soon after the attack through a drone in Jammu, the Ministry of Civil Aviation took a bold step and unveiled their new liberalized Drone Rules. These rules are called the “Draft Drone Rules 2021”.
Table of Contents:
- Need for new Draft Drone Rules, 2021
- New Draft Drone Rules, 2021
- Significance of the new Draft Drone Rules
Need for new Draft Drone Rules, 2021
In 2018, the Indian government brought their first regulations on the drone. They were in the form of Civil Aviation Requirements. But the requirements were left unfulfilled. The reason was the non-working of Digital Sky. Digital Sky is an online secure platform that enables management of unmanned aircraft operations.
Thus, the government on March 12, 2021, came up with Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Rules-2021. The rules bypassed all the advice given by the industry.
The law presented more complications for everyone present in the drone industry. So, they were also called the ‘Draconian Drone Laws’.
This is because the UAS system had the provision to follow several steps to obtain a license for every drone-related activity, starting from a screw to a drone flying up in the air. The same was with its fee system.
Complying with a procedure consisting of so many layers was an impossible task. The penalty for non-compliance was without any fixed limits. This non-fixed limit opened the door for imposing a penalty of any amount, which can even lead to a business becoming bankrupt.
As a result, the law faced criticism. But, the introduction of the new Rules, have paid off the criticisms. The draft rules released on July 15, 2021, strike to maintain a proper balance between operations and safety.
New Draft Drone Rules, 2021
Now after knowing the reason for emergence of the new Draft Drone Rules, let’s take a look at them in detail.
The basis of the new rules are ‘trust, self-certification, and non-intrusive monitoring’. Once finalized they will replace the UAS Rules.
The new Draft Drone Rules are set free for public consultations till August 5, 2021.
- To create a business-friendly digital-sky platform with a single-window online system for procuring various approvals;
- The system will facilitate self-generation of approvals;
- It will aid to achieve the least human interference.
Reduced number of forms
The number of forms to be filled under the Draft Drone Rules have been reduced to six, from the earlier 25 forms in the Unmanned Aircraft System Rules, 2021. These are filled to operate drones in the country.
Reduced fee for registration and approval
The new Rules have reduced their fees for both registrations as well as approval. The fees have been reduced to a nominal level.
No linkage to Drone’s size
The fee will now have no links to the size of drones.
Abolish various approvals
While flying most drones in India will mandatorily require a certificate of airworthiness and conformance, a unique authorisation number, a remote pilot license for the person controlling the flying the drone, import clearance, and prior permission, but no such approvals will be required for research and development by entities, Central government recognized educational institutions, State government or Union Territory Administrations, start-ups recognized by Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade and such manufacturers of drones possessing Goods and Service Tax number.
Digital Sky Platform
The said Platform will work and be developed as a business-friendly platform consisting of a single-window system to get quick approvals.
No pilot license for micro, nano drone, research development
The rules abolish the need for a Pilot license in the case of micro used for non-commercial purposes, nano drones and organizations involved in Research and Development and are operating such drones.
As per the new Rules Drone corridors will be established for the safer transfer of cargo.
Drone promotion Council
Part XI of the Rules is dedicated to Drone Promotion. It provides that a Drone Promotion Council will be set up to encourage the adoption and use of drones. The Council shall further aid in achieving a regulatory regime that includes automated permissions.
No restriction on Drone by foreign companies
The foreign companies that have been registered in India are free to perform Drone operations.
Self-generation of Unique Identification Number
One can self-generate the unique identification number of their drone through the self-certification route on the digital sky platform.
Interactive airspace diagram
The Digital sky Platform will have an interactive airspace map. The said map will divide the country into three zones namely green zone, red zone and yellow zone.
As per the new rules, no permission to fly a drone will be required to fly a drone in the green zone up to 400 feet. In the nearby area of airport, no flight permission will be required upto 200 feet in the area of about 8 to 12 km from the airport perimeter.
Reduced Airport Perimeter
The draft rules have lowered the perimeter of the airport to 12km from 45 km.
Rule 11 provides for Mandatory safety measures. It states, the drone owner is required to install safety measures on a drone, as provided by the Central government. It further enumerates the safety measures that may be later notified. Some of them include a tracking beacon, that will provide the real-time location of the drone, it’s altitude, speed etc. and geo-fencing. They are expected to be notified later with a six-month time being given for the compliance of the same.
Increased coverage of Drones
The coverage of drones has now been increased to 500 kg from the earlier 300 kg. It will cover drone taxis also.
Certificate of Airworthiness
The Quality Council of India and their authorities are now assigned with the task to provide a Certificate of Airworthiness. The said certificate confirms that the drone meets all the specified rules.
Remote Pilot Training Organizations
Only the organizations authorized by Remote Pilot Training Organizations will have the authority to provide training to a person seeking a remote pilot license.
The training requirements will be prescribed by the Director General of Civil Aviation and the pilot licenses will be provided online.
The new rules impose restrictions on the import of drone and its component. It states that import of the same will be regulated by the Director-General of Foreign Trade. They will also prescribe Standard operating procedures and Training Procedure Manuals on the digital-sky platform.
No security clearance
Security clearance will not be required before registration or license issuance.
Easier process for transfer of Drones
The new rules have made the process of the transfer of drones easy. The drones can now be transferred easily by giving names of transferor, transferee and the drone’s unique identification number on the digital sky platform. The details are to be given in Form D-3.
Simplified process for Deregistration of drones
The new rules have also simplified the process to deregister the drone. If the person owning a drone believes that the drone registered in his name is lost permanently or damaged, then he in Form D3 of Digital Sky Platform can submit his application to deregister the drone.
After a person is given an opportunity of being heard and it is proved that he contravened or failed to comply with provisions of these new rules, then a penalty of a maximum of INR 1 lakh can be levied on him. However, this penalty will not apply for violation of other laws.
Significance of the new Draft Done Rules
- In the aftermath of a drone attack on Jammu’s Air force base, the question of the country’s safety from such drone attacks increases. The draft rules will aid to achieve investments in Indian drone technology. This will facilitate simplifying the registration process.
- Abolition of operational complexities by the new rules will provide the players with more flexibility.
The Draft Drone Rules 2021 brought a sigh of relief to the drone industry. The rules have the potential to create an environment where the industry could flourish.
Vipul Singh, CEO and Co-founder of Aarav Unmanned System, stated that these rules will positively help in increasing innovation, adaptation, jobs and even investments.
The Rules are trying their best to strike a balance between the safety of the country and the benefits that can be derived from it.
Drones though useful for various purposes such as research, plantation etc., but the possibility of attack through it can also not be ruled out.
The government’s move to liberalize the rules, after Jammu’s incident is bold but appreciable.