The Civil Aviation Ministry on Thursday released the updated draft Drone Rule, 2021, for public consultation. As per the Ministry, the rules are "built on a premise of trust, self-certification, and non-intrusive monitoring". The Drone Rules, 2021, are expected to replace the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Rules that were issued in March this year. The Ministry has stated that drone corridors will be developed for cargo deliveries.
As per the draft Drone Rules, 2021, approvals for the unique authorisation number, unique prototype identification number, certificate of conformance, certificate of maintenance, import clearance, acceptance of existing drones, operator permits, authorisation of R&D organisation, student remote pilot licence, remote pilot instructor authorisation, drone port authorisation, etc have been abolished.
"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," read a statement issued by the Civil Aviation Ministry.
The ministry has stated that it has reduced the fees to nominal levels. The fees would not be linked to the size of the drone.
The Centre will develop the Digital Sky platform as a business-friendly single-window online system. The Digital Sky platform is an online platform that is operated by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), it is used for management of drone activities in India.
The Ministry has explained that there will be the minimum human interface on the Digital Sky platform and that most of the requests will be self-generated. The draft Drone Rules, 2021, mention an interactive airspace map with green, yellow, and red zones for display on the Digital Sky platform.
"Yellow zone will be reduced from 45 km to 12 km from the airport perimeter. No flight permission required upto 400 feet in green zones and up to 200 feet in the area between 8 and 12 km from the airport perimeter," it said.
The Centre has also proposed removing the pilot licence requirement for micro drones (for non-commercial use), nano drones and for R&D organisations. The government has also relaxed restrictions on drone operations by foreign-owned firms registered in India.
"No security clearance is required before any registration or licence issuance. Coverage of drones under Drone Rules, 2021, has been increased from 300 kg to 500 kg. This will cover drone taxis also," noted the Civil Aviation Ministry.
All drone training and testing will be carried out by an authorised drone school, as per the ministry. The DGCA shall prescribe training requirements, oversee drone schools and provide pilot licences online.
The maximum penalty under the Drone Rules, 2021, has been reduced to Rs 1 lakh. "This shall, however, not apply to penalties in respect of violation of other laws," noted the ministry. A drone promotion council will also be established to facilitate a business-friendly regulatory regime.
The last date for submitting public comment on the draft Drone Rules, 2021, is August 5, 2021.
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