Days after Jammu attack, govt issues draft rules to ensure ease of using drones in India
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The Civil Aviation Ministry on Thursday issued the Draft Drone Rules, 2021, seeking public consultation before notifying them to replace the UAS Rules 2021 issued in March this year.

The UAS Rules, 2021 came into force on March 12 this year. The Drone Rules, 2021, once notified, will supersede the UAS Rules, 2021.

The Civil Aviation Ministry has issued draft rules to ensure ease of using drones in India on the basis of "trust, self-certification and non-intrusive monitoring".

The number of forms to be filled to operate drones in the country have been reduced to six in draft 'Drone Rules, 2021' in comparison to 25 forms mentioned in the Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Rules, 2021, it said.

The fee, in the draft rules, has been reduced to nominal levels and de-linked from the size of the drone, the statement said.

The draft rules have also abolished the requirement of various approvals, including certificate of conformance, certificate of maintenance, import clearance, acceptance of existing drones, operator permit, authorisation of R&D organisation and student remote pilot licence, it said.

No flight permission will be required up to 400 feet in green zones and up to 200 feet in the area between 8 and 12 km from the airport perimeter, the draft rules stated.

The draft rules have also prescribed easier process for transfer and deregistration of drones. "The draft rules have been built on a premise of trust, self-certification and non-intrusive monitoring," the ministry stated.

No pilot licence will be required for micro drones (for non-commercial use), nano drone and for R&D (research and development) organisations, the draft rules mentioned.

Drone corridors will be developed for cargo deliveries and a drone promotion council will be set up to facilitate a drone-friendly regulatory regime in the country, according to the draft rules.

The last date for the public to submit their comments on the draft rules is August 5. The draft rules also stated that there would be no restriction on drone operations by foreign-owned companies registered in India.

Digital sky platform will be developed as a business-friendly single-window online system. "There will be minimal human interface on the digital sky platform and most of the permissions will be self-generated," the draft rules added.

While security is the key focus of these proposals, there are some changes that will make operating drones easier in India. Coverage of drones under Drone Rules, 2021 increased from 300 kg to 500 kg. This will cover drone taxis also. All drone training and testing to be carried out by an authorised drone school. DGCA shall prescribe training requirements, oversee drone schools and provide pilot licences online.

Issuance of Certificate of Airworthiness delegated to Quality Council of India and certification entities authorised by it. Manufacturers may generate their drone's unique identification number on the digital sky platform through the self-certification route. Easier process prescribed for transfer and deregistration of drones.

Standard operating procedures (SOP) and training procedure manuals (TPM) will be prescribed by DGCA on the digital sky platform for self-monitoring by users. No approvals required unless there is a significant departure from the prescribed procedures.

Maximum penalty under Drone Rules, 2021 reduced to Rs 1 lakh. This shall, however, not apply to penalties in respect of violation of other laws. Also, Drone corridors will be developed for cargo deliveries. Drone promotion Council to be set up to facilitate a business-friendly regulatory regime.

(With inputs from Agencies)

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