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Drones get legal! Here's what you can do, what you can't do

Drone operations, which will be based on NPNT (No Permission, No Take off) system, will be enabled through a digital sky platform on the DGCA website from December 1.

twitter-logoBusinessToday.In | August 31, 2018 | Updated 18:07 IST
Drones get legal! Here's what you can do, what you can't do

The government on Monday launched a drone regulation policy that will allow drones to be used for safe and commercial use in India. The new rules will come into effect on December 1. All drone operations will have to be approved by the Digital Sky Platform, the details about which will be available on the DGCA website. In line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's digital push, no paper-based process is needed for registering and operating drones. However, one has to do a one-time registration of drones, pilots and owners on the Digital Sky Platform. The platform is an unmanned traffic management system, which will work as a traffic regulator in the drone airspace. It will also coordinate closely with the defence and civilian air traffic authorities to ensure drones don't enter in restricted areas.

These norms will allow drones to be used to address various problems and simplify processes in areas such as photography, agriculture, infrastructure asset maintenance, and insurance, among others. However, there are certain rules that must be followed in order to own and operate a drone. Any violation of these norms may put you in trouble under relevant sections of the Aircraft Act 1934 and the Indian Penal Code.

What you can do

  • You can only fly drones that fit into these five categories based on their weight -- nano, micro, small, medium and large.
  • You will be allowed to operate drones on specific colour zones, including green and yellow zones, while permission is restricted in red zone areas.
  • Green zone is the area that has uncontrolled airspace, and you can get automatic permission to fly in it on the digital sky platform.
  • You can also fly in yellow zone areas but only after certain permission as they come under controlled airspace, which means you have to prepare a flight plan and obtain air defence clearance.
  • You can only fly drones that are registered and issued with a Unique Identification Number (UIN). The rule does not apply for nano and those owned by the National Technical Research Organisation, and central intelligence agencies.
  • You don't need a permission to operate 'nano drones' below 50 ft and microdrones operating below 200 ft.
  • You can fly drones only in a visual line of sight during the daytime up to a maximum altitude of 400ft.

What you can't do

  • You can't fly a drone without seeking permission through the digital sky platform.
  • If the area comes in a red zone, flying is not permitted due to security reasons.
  • You can't fly a drone without a permit. All small, medium and large drone operators need to get an Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit to be able to fly it.
  • No drone is allowed to fly without mandatory equipment like GPS system, return-to-home system, anti-collision light, ID-plate, flight data logging system, and radio frequency identification.
  • The regulation defines 'No Drone Zones' around airports -- near an international border; Vijay Chowk in Delhi; State Secretariat Complex in state capitals, strategic locations or vital and military installations. Anyone flying a drone in these areas may face strict action.
(Edited by Manoj Sharma)

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