scorecardFlying drones are finally legal in India
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Flying drones are finally legal in India

Flying drones are finally legal in India
Tech3 min read
  • The Directorate General of Civil Aviation issued ‘Drone Regulations 1.0’ which highlight where, when and how drones can operate within India.
  • Civilian drones can fly anywhere in the ‘green zone’ while staying within 450m, in the line of sight.
  • Commercial drones are now allowed in agriculture, health and relief disaster.
Flying drones in India is finally going to be legal starting December 1, 2018. Until now, flying drones in the country, until and unless specifically sanctioned by the government, was illegal. Not illegal in the sense that there was stringent surveillance, but if you got caught, you were definitely in trouble.

That being said, it’s never been illegal to buy drones in India.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation’s new Drone Regulations 1.0 layout the framework for how unmanned aircrafts will be allowed to operate within the country.

Drone away

Even with the new regulation coming in to place, there are few terms and conditions that apply. While the commercial use of drones in sectors like agriculture, health and disaster relief will be allowed, making ‘deliveries’ of any kind didn’t make the cut.

That means Zomato and Swiggy can’t use drones to deliver your food, and Amazon and Flipkart will have to wait their turn as well.

On the other hand, civilian drones can fly about all they like. That is, during the day and within the visual line of sight, which is around 450m high, making it the ‘green zone’. It’s not that you can’t fly higher, you just need to get police permission to do so since it falls in to the ‘yellow zone’.

And, then comes common sense. Civilian or commercial, drones can’t fly around airports, near the international border, near the coast line or around secretariat complexes.Strategic locations, vital and military installations can’t have drone activity either. These are the ‘red zones’.

But, for some reason, they can’t be used for wedding photography. Probably due to the frequency and sheer volume of how often weddings happen.

Any drone, that isn’t a micro-drone or owned by the National Technical Research Organisation, will have to be registered and issued a Unique Identification Number (UIN).

If you break a regulation the least that can happen to you is that your UIN will be cancelled or suspended. On the other hand, if the offence is bad enough, you could be booked under the relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code.

How are they going to enforce all this?

Rules and regulations are all well and good, but it’s their actual implementation that will make all the difference. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation has come up with something called the Digital Sky Platform.

It’s a nifty little tool that the government can use to keep an eye on what your drone is upto. All pilots have to do is register, ask for permission and it will be approved depending on terms put forward in the new set of regulations.

The Digital Sky Platform will be in touch with defence and civil air traffic controllers to coordinate drone activity. In case you’re thinking of going rogue, the system has a ‘no permission, no takeoff’ mantra that prevents drones from violating any of the rules.

In fact, the SIM card required for drones is put in place for this precisely reason. If your drone violated any rules, like going higher than prescribed or leaving your flight path, that SIM can be used to shut down drone systems entirely.

Economic boost

Allowing drones to be legally flown around India opens up a whole new sector for entrepreneurs to invest in. There are already number of startups working on drone technology or industrial solutions that use drones.

The government, from their side, noted that these regulations have been put in place to encourage the Make in India scheme. The Drone Regulations 1.0 might not seem perfect or even ideal, but Drone Regulations 2.0 are already being fine tuned.