Centre releases draft drone rules, here are key proposed changes


New Delhi: Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) on Thursday (July 15, 2021) released the updated Drone Rules, 2021 for public consultation. Built on a premise of trust, self-certification, and non-intrusive monitoring, “The Drone Rules, 2021” will replace the UAS Rules 2021 (released on 12 March 2021). The last date for receipt of public comments is 5 August 2021.

Key takeaways from the Draft Drone Rules, 2021 include:

– Approvals abolished: unique authorisation number, unique prototype identification number, certificate of conformance, certificate of maintenance, import clearance, acceptance of existing drones, operator permit, authorisation of R&D organisation, student remote pilot licence, remote pilot instructor authorisation, drone port authorisation etc. 

– Number of forms reduced from 25 to 6.

– Fee reduced to nominal levels. No linkage with the size of the drone.  

– Safety features like ‘No permission – no take-off’ (NPNT), real-time tracking beacon, geo-fencing etc. to be notified in future. A six-month lead time will be provided for compliance. 

– Digital sky platform shall be developed as a business-friendly single-window online system.   

– There will be minimal human interface on the digital sky platform and most permissions will be self-generated.   

– Interactive airspace map with green, yellow, and red zones will be displayed on the digital sky platform.  

– Yellow zone reduced from 45 km to 12 km from the airport perimeter. 

– No flight permission required upto 400 feet in green zones and upto 200 feet in the area between 8 and 12 km from the airport perimeter. 

– No pilot licence required for micro drones (for non-commercial use), nano drone and for R&D organisations. 

– No restriction on drone operations by foreign-owned companies registered in India.

– Import of drones and drone components to be regulated by DGFT.   

– No security clearance required before any registration or licence issuance.  

– No requirement of certificate of airworthiness, unique identification number, prior permission and remote pilot licence for R&D entities.   

Coverage of drones under Drone Rules, 2021 increased from 300 kg to 500 kg.  This will cover drone taxis also. 

– All drone training and testing to be carried out by an authorised drone school.  DGCA shall prescribe training requirements, oversee drone schools and provide pilot licences online. 

– Issuance of Certificate of Airworthiness delegated to Quality Council of India and certification entities authorised by it.   

– Manufacturer may generate their drone’s unique identification number on the digital sky platform through the self-certification route.  

– Easier process prescribed for transfer and deregistration of drones. 

– Standard operating procedures (SOP) and training procedure manuals (TPM) will be prescribed by DGCA on the digital sky platform for self-monitoring by users.  No approvals required unless there is a significant departure from the prescribed procedures.

Maximum penalty under Drone Rules, 2021 reduced to INR 1 lakh.  This shall, however, not apply to penalties in respect of violation of other laws. 

– Drone corridors will be developed for cargo deliveries.  

– Drone promotion council to be set up to facilitate a business-friendly regulatory regime.

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