It may come as a surprise to regional security experts and analysts that the Government of India has come up with a liberalized set of draft rules for drones in the wake of the drone attack in Jammu. The aviation ministry has sought public comments on a much simplified Drone Rules, 2021 till August 5. The final rules, after taking the comments into consideration, are expected to be issued, replacing the stricter UAS rules.
The government’s stance shows that it is willing to allow the technology to achieve its potential. The Union Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said the draft drone rules 2021 will provide a major fillip to the drone industry and mark a stark shift from the earlier rules. “Several approvals abolished and processes made easier; number of forms reduced from 25 to 5; no security clearance required before any registration or licence issuance; easy process for transfer and de-registration of drones; no pilot licence required for nano drones (weighing up to 250 gram), micro drones (weighing up to 2kg) for non-commercial use.”
There will be no restriction on drone operations by foreign-owned companies registered in India. The maximum penalty under new rules will be capped at Rs 1 lakh. Moreover, the draft rules strike a balance in simplifying their use in a manner while ensuring they do not pose any risk to safety or security of people and assets. Safety features like no permission-no takeoff, real-time tracking beacon and geo-fencing will be notified in future. A six-month lead time will be provided for compliance.
Under the proposed rules, interactive airspace map with green, yellow and red zones will be displayed on the digital sky platform. Yellow zone is proposed to be reduced from 45km to 12 km from the airport perimeter. No flight permission is required up to 400 feet in green zones and up to 200 feet in the area between 8km and 12km from the airport perimeter.
Scindia tweeted that drones are bringing the next big tech revolution around the world with reduced costs, resources and time taken for operations. “It is upon us to ride on the new wave and facilitate its uptake, especially among our startups.” A senior official said the draft drone rules are built on a premise of trust, self-certification and non-intrusive monitoring.
Arjun Aggarwal, MD of Aeroarc, said the change will give impetus to an aatmanirbhar drone eco-system. He described the new rules as a paradigm shift from the document-intensive UAS rules of March 21 that enable faster and paperless approvals, enhanced traction by foreign OEMs, single window interface, which is in sync with what drones offer.
Furthermore, the government will also be developing drone corridors for cargo deliveries.