Prelims cum Mains Science & Tech

Drone regulations: how, where Indians can fly from December 1 onward?


  • Flying drone is all set to become legal in India as DGCA published the final guidelines on civilian use of drones.


Drone Regulations 1.0

  • As per the new regulations, the commercial use of drones in various sectors will come into effect from December 1 2018.
  • Drone Regulations 1.0 define drone classification, fly zones, and approvals.
  • Drone Regulations 1.0 applies to only drones flying within the height of 400ft and visual line of sight (VLOS).



Classification of drones

As per Drone Regulations 1.0, drones are classified according to their weight :

  1. Nano: Less than or equal to 250 grams
  2. Micro: From 250 grams to 2kg
  3. Small: From 2kg to 25kg
  4. Medium: From 25kg to 150kg
  5. Large: Greater than 150kg


Key Guidelines

Unique identification number UIN:

  • DGCA will issue unique identification number, similar to a vehicle registration number, to every drone bigger than Nano category.
  • The unique identification number (UIN) must be displayed on the aircraft.
  • UIN will be issued once against a fee of Rs 1,000.
  • It will be issued only to Indian citizens.


Unique Air Operator’s Permit:

  • A Unique Air Operator’s Permit, similar to a driver’s licence will be issued at a fee of Rs. 25000 to users of bigger drones.
  • It will be valid for five years and can be renewed at a cost of Rs 10,000.
  • Those requiring a UAOP will undergo a five-day training programme on regulations, basic principles of flight, air traffic control procedures, weather and meteorology, emergency identification and handling, etc.
  • The training will be followed by written tests and flight simulator tests.
  • After the test the permits are issued
  • Both UIN and UAOP can be obtained from the online platform Digital Sky in less than a week.


Detailed operating procedure

  • Drones can be operated by someone who is over 18 years of age with knowledge in Class 10 English.
  • The drone operators have to complete detailed operational procedure each time a drone takes off.
  • Nano drones can operate within 50 ft above the ground without any registration or permit (UAOP) or flight plan.
  • Micro drones operating below 200 feet require a UIN but do not need permit (UAOP) or flight plan.
  • However they are required to intimate the local police before actual operations.
  • All other drones flying upto a height of 400 ft will need:
    • To register (UIN)
    • To take permit (UAOP)
    • To file a flight plan
    • Inform the local police
  • Further all drone flights are restricted to the daytime only and within Visual Line of Sight (VLOS).
  • Insurance will be mandatory to cover third-party damage.



No-drone Zones

  • 5 km around the airports of Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Bengaluru and Hyderabad.
  • For other airports, the no-drone zone extends up to 3 km.
  • Drones cannot be operated in strategic locations, vital and military installations and Vijay Chowk in Delhi including wedding photography.
  • They cannot be operated within 25km from international border which includes Line of Control (LoC), Line of Actual Control (LAC) and Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL).
  • Cannot be operated from a mobile platform such as a moving vehicle, ship or aircraft.
  • Prior permission is required before flying drones in eco-sensitive zones around National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries.
  • Those who violate the rules and regulations will be acted upon several sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Aircraft Act 1934.


Few gaps

  • Drones used for commercial purposes will invariably weigh more than 2 kg will need permission every time it is operated. This can be relaxed.
  • Height limit of 400 feet will be difficult to follow if it is to be used for surveying and mapping.
  • Drone Regulation 1.0 does not allow the use of drones for delivery of goods and food items.
  • Thus the use of drones would remain limited to amateur usage like wedding photography and recreational use.


Way forward: Drone Regulations 2.0

  • Drone Regulations 2.0” will include guidance on certification of drone hardware and software and general airspace management.
  • Rules for allowing drones to fly beyond 400 feet and out of the line-of-sight.

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