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Indian Government forms taskforce to accelerate roll-out of drone technology

Indian Government forms taskforce to accelerate roll-out of drone technology

The Indian Government is constituting a taskforce under the chairmanship of the Minister of State for Civil Aviation, Mr Jayant Sinha, for fast-tracking the roll-out of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) or drone technology.

The taskforce will consist of representatives from the Government, PSUs, industry and sectoral experts and it will submit its report within 6 months of its constitution.  The taskforce will be headquartered at the Ministry of Civil Aviation, New Delhi.  

The taskforce will focus, on research & development, acquisition & commercialisation, application & adoption of the technology in specific sectors and the required regulatory framework. This will be done with a preference for Make in India. The Make in India initiative was launched in September 2014 with the aim of transforming India into a global design and manufacturing hub

A roadmap with implementable recommendations for the Central Government, State Governments, Industry and Research Institutions including outcomes, timelines, implementation & review mechanism and measurable metrics will be prepared by the taskforce. The role of the industry will also be clearly delineated.

As part of the process, the taskforce may study global practices and interact with relevant stakeholders, as required, for preparation of their report.

The taskforce will conduct necessary consultations and interactions with Industry, Research Institutions and government organisations.

Draft regulations issued last year on civil use of drones

In November last year, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation announced draft regulations on civil use of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems.

According to the draft regulations,  drones have been classified on the basis of their maximum take-off weight : 1) Nano (Less than or equal to 250 gm); 2) Micro (Greater than 250 gm and less than or equal to 2 kg); 3) Mini (Greater than 2 kg and less than or equal to 25 kg); 4) Small (Greater than 25 kg and less than or equal to 150 kg); and 5) Large (Greater than 150 kg).

All drones are proposed to be operated in visual line of sight, during day time only and below 200 feet. Dropping of any substance, carriage of hazardous material or animal or human payload is not permitted.

The draft regulations require all commercial categories of drones except those in the Nano category and those operated by government security agencies, to be registered by DGCA as per ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) proposed policy, in the form of Unique Identification Number (UIN).

The Mini and above categories will require Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit (UAOP). But the model aircraft up to maximum take-off weight of 2 Kgs, flown below 200 feet, inside educational institution premises will not require UIN/UAOP.

The draft regulation also mandates remote pilots to undergo requisite training, except for nano and micro categories. As per the draft regulation, the micro and above category drones will have to be equipped with RFID/SIM, return to home option and anti-collision lights.  

The draft regulation also specify certain restricted areas for operations of drones. Drones cannot be operated within an area of 5km from airport, within permanent or temporary Prohibited, Restricted and Danger Areas as notified by AAI (Airports Authority of India) in AIP and without prior approval over densely populated areas or over or near an area affecting public safety or where emergency operations are underway.

Restricted areas also include within 50 km from international border and beyond 500 m (horizontal) into sea along the coastline. Drones cannot be operated within 5 km radius from Vijay Chowk in Delhi and from a mobile platform such as a moving vehicle, ship or aircraft.