You'll legally be able to fly drones from December 1
Starting December 1, individuals and companies will be legally allowed to fly drones in Indian airspace, except for in restricted areas, according to the civil aviation ministry's new Drone Regulations 1.0. However, the commercial use of drones as taxis or delivery vehicles will not be allowed as of now, but the ministry has said that it's open to future changes. Here's more.
Jayant Sinha's statement on the regulations
"We want to establish a world-leading drone ecosystem. These regulations firmly place us among the global leaders. Our policy road map will provide strong impetus to all players in the drone ecosystem," said minister for state for civil aviation, Jayant Sinha.
India will use an unmanned traffic management system
To legally fly drones for photography and other recreational purposes, drone operators will have to obtain permission through a portal called the Digital Sky Platform. The ministry claims that the portal will be a first-of-its-kind unmanned traffic management system for India wherein a 'no permission, no take-off policy' will be implemented. No permissions will be needed for flying 'nano' drones weighing below 250gm.
The Digital Sky Platform will serve two functions
The Digital Sky Platform will be an app where drone operators have to register themselves and their drones. Once done, they can open the app and ask for permission, which will automatically be approved or denied depending on several factors. Additionally, the platform, in coordination with civilian and defense air traffic controllers, will also serve as an unmannned traffic regulator in drone airspace.
You'll need permits to fly these types of drones
The regulations also classify drones into categories. Micro drones have been defined as weighing between 250gm and 2kg, while small drones have been defined as weighing between 2kg and 25kg. Meanwhile, drones weighing 25kg and 150kg have been defined as medium drones, and those weighing above 150kg have been defined as large drones. An Unmanned Aircraft Operator is needed to fly all four categories.
Drone hardware requirements to be deemed eligible
However, that's not all. Your drone also needs specific hardware requirements to be considered flight capable. These include GPS tracking, an automated return-to-home function, anti-collision lights, a fireproof ID plate, a flight controller that can log flight data, and a RFID and SIM card. Why a SIM? Reportedly, that's how the government will lock your drone down if you try to fly sans permission.
Flight rules: Details about time, flight zones, altitude etc.
The Drone Regulations 1.0 specify that for now, only day-time drone flights will be allowed within visual line-of-sight, and at a maximum altitude of 400ft. Additionally, airspace will be color coded and available for viewing on the Digital Sky Platform app. Red indicates a no-fly zone, yellow indicates restricted airspace that requires multiple flight permits, and green has been designated as 'automatic permission' zones.
The dawn of the drone era in India?
Despite having restrictions on delivery and taxi drone services, the Drone Regulations 1.0 mark India's first attempt to open up the drone ecosystem in the country. What's more? The Drone Task Force which drafted these regulations are also set to submit a set of new regulations, the Drone Regulations 2.0, soon, which might pave the way for further easing of rules.