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Civil aviation ministry moots corridor for flying drones

PTI     January 15, 2019

Seeking to develop an ecosystem for drone operations, the government has suggested establishing a corridor for flying drones as well as setting up a separate directorate for licensing and authorising of unmanned aircraft systems.

Coming out with a draft policy note on Tuesday, the civil aviation ministry has also proposed constructing droneports to facilitate take-off and landing of drones and a stricter regulatory framework, including features for protecting "personal data by design".

A Digital Sky Platform for registration of drones is already operational under Civil Aviation Requirement (CAR) 1.0. Now, the ministry has issued a draft policy note on CAR 2.0.

"Till such time the UAS (Unmanned Aircraft System) for commercial use are not certified as safe to fly alongside manned aircraft, they should be kept away from airspace in which manned aircraft operate.

"Alternatively, Drone Corridor i.e. an airspace segregated from fight paths of manned aircraft (with adequate safety buffer) should be provided for UAS operations," the Drone Ecosystem Policy Roadmap said.

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Another suggestion is for setting up of a Drone Directorate within the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) that would issue necessary guidelines for the nascent industry. Besides, financial penalties have been proposed for violation of norms.

"There is a need for a Member, DigitalSky -- an analogue of Member, Air Navigation Service, but specialising in airspace issues arising from usage of UAS. The Member, DigitalSky may be given responsibility for maintain existing Digital Sky Platform, and upgrading it to meet the technological demands for operations beyond visual line of sight and operation of autonomous UAS," the policy note said.

To mitigate privacy risks arising out of drone operations, it has been suggested that original equipment manufacturers should include specific features that take into consideration principles of privacy and protection of personal data by design and by default.

Further, the policy note has pitched for 100 per cent FDI under the automatic route in UAS and RPAS (Remotely Piloted Aircraft System)-based commercial civil aviation services, subject to certain conditions.

Among others, the Drone Directorate may prescribe a maximum lifecycle for each drone-type and operators must apply for re-certification at the end of the lifecycle, it added.

"Operators that deploy and use autonomous UAS should ensure that the UAS is humancentric i.e. it should be developed, deployed and used for an ethical purpose, and its operation must demonstrate respect for the ethical principles of Benecence (do good) and Non-Malecence (do no harm)," it added.

According to the policy note, autonomous UAS should not under any circumstance harm human beings and should, by design protect the dignity, liberty, privacy, safety of human beings.

"CAR 2.0 may either be introduced as an amendment to the existing CAR 1.0 or it may also be introduced as separate set of Civil Aviation Requirements notwithstanding the conditions laid down under CAR 1.0," the policy note said.


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