Drone Rules 2021 is liberalized, removes security clearance before registration

Drone Rules 2021 eases security measures by removing security clearance before issuing license and registration certificates.

New Delhi: India has announced a new drone policy in 2021 to make the country a potential drone hub by 2030. According to the PIB release, drones can significantly generate employment and economic growth due to their accessibility, versatility, and easy usage in various sectors like agriculture, mining, infrastructure, surveillance, emergency response, transportation, geo-spatial mapping, defense, and law enforcement. 

The new drone policy eases security measures by removing security clearance before issuing license and registration certificates. The liberalized policy also increased the coverage of drones from 300 kilograms to 500 kilograms. It will include heavy payload-carrying drones and drone taxis.

Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) had decided to repeal the UAS Rules, 2021, and replace them with the new relaxed drone rules based on public feedback. The UAS Rules, 2021 was published in March 2021.

The New Drone Rules 2021 is based on people’s feedback

Last month, Union Minister for Civil Aviation, Jyotiraditya M Scindia has announced the possible amendment to the existing UAS Rules. According to the TOI report, he said, “The aviation ministry has sought public comments on the much simplified New Drone policy till 5 August. After considering the public comments, the newly amended drone policy will be released.

Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Rules 2021, were made in March. It had a tedious registration process and security clearance.

Both Modi and Scindia have welcomed the new policy on Twitter. Narendra Modi has said, “The new Drone Rules will tremendously help start-ups and our youth working in this sector. It will open up new possibilities for innovation & business. It will help leverage India’s strengths in innovation, technology & engineering to make India a drone hub.”

Jyotiraditya M Scindia has said, “In the same vein, 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.”

The key features of Drone Rules 2021

According to the press release, the liberalized Drone Policy 2021 will have the following key features:

– The policy is built on a premise of trust, self-certification, and non-intrusive monitoring. It balances both safety and security considerations and the demands of the new era.

– Several approvals is abolished like unique authorization number, unique prototype identification number, certificate of manufacturing and airworthiness, certificate of conformance, certificate of maintenance, import clearance, acceptance of existing drones, operator permits, R&D authorization, student remote pilot license, remote pilot instructor authorization, drone port authorization, etc.

– The number of forms and types of fees is reduced from 25 to 5 and from 72 to 4, respectively. The quantum of the fee is reduced to nominal levels and delinked with the size of the drone. For example, the fee for a remote pilot license fee has been reduced from 3000 rupees (for large drones) to 100 rupees for all categories of drones. The license is valid for ten years. Microdrones (for non-commercial use) and nano drones will not require any remote pilot license is not required.

– Digital sky platform, a user-friendly single-window system will be built for minimal human interface as most permissions will be self-generated. The platform will display an interactive airspace map with green, yellow, and red zones within 30 days of the publication of these rules. 

-No permission is required for operating drones in green zones.

-Green zone: 

1. The airspace up to a vertical distance of 400 feet or 120 meters and is not designated as a red zone or yellow zone in the airspace map. 

2. The airspace up to a vertical distance of 200 feet or 60 meters above the area, located between a lateral distance of 8 and 12 kilometers from the perimeter of an operational airport. 

The yellow zone lowered from 45 km to 12 km from the airport perimeter.

– No requirement of security clearance before issuing any registration certificates or licenses. No need for a type certificate, unique identification number, and remote pilot license by R&D entities operating drones in their own or rented premises, located in a green zone.

 – While DGFT will regulate the import of drones, foreign ownership will not be restricted in the Indian drone companies. The previous requirement of import clearance from DGCA is abolished.

– The coverage of drones under Drone Rules, 2021 increased from 300 kg to 500 kg. It will cover drone taxis also. 

– DGCA shall prescribe drone training requirements, oversee drone schools and provide pilot licenses online. The remote pilot license will be issued by DGCA within 15 days of the pilot receiving the remote pilot certificate through the digital sky platform.

– Quality Council of India or authorized testing entities will test the drones before issuing the Type Certificates. Type Certificate required only when a drone has to be operated in India. Importing and manufacturing drones purely for exports are exempt from type certification and unique identification numbers. Nano and model drones (made for research or recreation purposes) are exempt from type certification.

– Manufacturers and importers may generate their drones’ unique identification number on the digital sky platform through the self-certification route. The transfer and de-registration process specified for drones through the digital sky platform is relaxed.

– 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. 

– DGCA will publish the SOPs and training procedure manuals (TPM) on the digital sky platform for self-monitoring. No approvals are required unless there is a significant departure from the prescribed procedures. 

– Maximum penalty for violations is reduced to 1 lakh rupees, but safety and security features like ‘No permission – no takeoff’ (NPNT), real-time tracking beacon, geo-fencing, etc. will be notified in the future. The drone industry will get a six-month lead time for compliance.

– Drone corridors for cargo deliveries will be built. The government will set up a Drone promotion council with participation from academia, startups, and other stakeholders to facilitate a growth-oriented regulatory regime.

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