By Prarthana Mitra
After much deliberation, the Directorate General of Central Aviation on Monday announced its much-awaited policy for remotely piloted aircraft or drones, scheduled for implementation from December 1, 2018. It charts much-needed details about the classification of such aircraft, how and how far they may be flown, in a bit to curb the range and height of their operation, especially in cases of commercial use.
What is a drone?
“The remotely piloted aircraft, its associated remote pilot station(s), command and control links and any other components forms a Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS),” the policy states. These RPAs are mandated to adhere to civil aviation rules laid down in 1937, which includes registering under a Unique Identification Number (UIN), Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit (UAOP) and other operational requirements.
Categories of drones
According to the policy, the five categories of drones based on mass comprise Nano (less than 250gm), Micro (250gm-2kg), Small (2kg-25kg), Medium (25kg-150kg), and Large (more than 150kg). All drones heavier than 250gm have to apply for import clearance, based on an import licence will be issued.
Operators of civil drones will be required to apply for a permit from the DGCA, except for Nano RPAs operating below 50 feet and Micro RPAs operating below 200 feet in uncontrolled airspace (or enclosed premises). In both cases, operations ought to inform the local police before 24 hours. In case of RPAs owned and operated by NTRO, ARC and Central Intelligence Agencies, the same conditions apply.
What is the UAOP? What are the criteria to apply?
For every drone, the DGCA offers and maintains an Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit.
The UAOP has to be issued within seven working days, based on complete submission of relevant documents. It will be valid for five years but cannot be transferred. Drones for commercial use by Amazon and Flikpart will also require these licences to start their delivery-by-drone services in India.
According to DGCA, adults over 18 years of age, with English medium education till Class 10 and practical training certified by DGCA, will be eligible to fly drones in India. No remote pilot can operate more than one RPA at any time.
The basic operating procedure condones drone flights only in the daytime, well within “Visual Line of Sight (VLOS)”. RPAs can’t be loaded with humans, animals or hazardous cargo that can cause danger to people or property.
An insurance has been made mandatory to cover third-party damage.
Where can’t you fly a drone?
A perimeter of 5km around Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Bengaluru and Hyderabad airports have been cordoned off as drone-free zones. RPA flight is also prohibited within 3km from the perimeter of any other airport in the country, or from a mobile platform such as a moving vehicle, ship or aircraft.
Other “permanent or temporary Prohibited, Restricted and Danger Areas” includes National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries, the Line of Control (LoC), Line of Actual Control (LAC) and Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL). Drones aren’t allowed to fly beyond 500 m into the sea from the coastline and within 3 km from the perimeter of military installations.
Violations will be taken care of as per relevant sections of the IPC and the Aircraft Act 1934.
Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius
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