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New rules for drones in India

New rules for drones in India: The maximum penalty for violations reduced to Rs 1 lakh. (Photo: Pixabay)

New rules for drones in India: Security clearance not required

The government today issued new rules for drones usage in India which will significantly transform the Indian landscape for drones. The Drone Rules 2021 make it significantly easier for people and companies in the country to now own and operate drones since under the new drone policy, no clearance is required before any registration or licence issuance. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the liberalised Drone Rules, 2021 will usher in a landmark moment for the sector in India. He also highlighted that approvals, compliance requirements and entry barriers have been significantly reduced under the new rules.

In March 2021, the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) published the Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Rules, 2021. They were perceived by academia, startups, end-users and other stakeholders as being restrictive in nature as they involved considerable paperwork, required permissions for every drone flight and very few “free to fly” green zones were available.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation in a release today informed, “Based on the feedback, the Government has decided to repeal the UAS Rules, 2021 and replace the same with the liberalised Drone Rules, 2021.”

New Drone Rules 2021: All you need to know

  • The number of forms was reduced from 25 to 5
  • Types of fees reduced from 72 to 4.
  • Quantum of fee reduced to nominal levels and delinked with the size of the drone. For instance, the fee for a remote pilot license fee has been reduced from Rs 3000 (for large drones) to Rs 100 for all categories of drones; and is valid for 10 years.
  • The digital sky platform shall be developed as a user-friendly single-window system.
  • Interactive airspace map with green, yellow and red zones shall be displayed on the digital sky platform within 30 days of publication of these rules.
  • No permission required for operating drones in green zones. Green zone means the airspace upto a vertical distance of 400 feet or 120 metre that has not been designated as a red zone or yellow zone in the airspace map; and the airspace upto a vertical distance of 200 feet or 60 metre above the area located between a lateral distance of 8 and 12 kilometre from the perimeter of an operational airport.
  • The yellow zone was reduced from 45 km to 12 km from the airport perimeter.
  • No remote pilot licence required for micro drones (for non-commercial use) and nano drones.
  • No requirement for security clearance before issuance of any registration or licence.
  • No requirement of Type Certificate, unique identification number and remote pilot licence by R&D entities operating drones in own or rented premises, located in a green zone.
  • No restriction on foreign ownership in Indian drone companies
  • .Requirement of import clearance from DGCA abolished.
  • Coverage of drones under Drone Rules, 2021 increased from 300 kg to 500 kg. This will cover drone taxis also.
  • DGCA shall provide pilot licences online. Remote pilot licence to be issued by DGCA within 15 days of pilot receiving the remote pilot certificate from the authorised drone school through the digital sky platform.
  • Type Certificate required only when a drone is to be operated in India. Importing and manufacturing drones purely for exportsare exempt from type certification and unique identification number.
  • Nano and model drones (made for research or recreation purposes) are exempt from type certification.
  • Drones present in India on or before 30 Nov 2021 will be issued a unique identification number through the digital sky platform provided, they have a DAN, a GST-paid invoice and are part of the list of DGCA-approved drones.
  • The maximum penalty for violations reduced to Rs 1 lakh.

“The new Drone Rules will trigger a revolution not just in the logistics & transportation sector but will create change ripples across sectors like agriculture, healthcare, mining etc. It will also provide a launchpad to our startups who are ready to lead this revolution from the front. Onwards & upwards from here on,” Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia tweeted.

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