The Ministry of Civil aviation on 1st August 2022, has notified the extended usage of drone services to to almost all sectors of the economy which includes agriculture, vaccine delivery, surveillance, search and rescue, transportation, mapping, defence and law enforcement The Government is utilising services of drone service providers for vaccine delivery, inspection of oil pipelines and power transmission lines, anti-locust operations, agricultural spraying, survey of mines, land mapping under SVAMITVA scheme for issuance of digital property cards, etc. Private players are free to use drones for delivery purposes subject to compliance with Drone Rules, 2021.
The Drones Rules, 2021 notified on 25 August 2021 provides the necessary regulatory framework for commercial use of drones. These rules cover various aspects like type certification, registration and operation of drones, airspace restrictions, research, development and testing of drones, training and licensing, offences and penalties etc.
- The key aspects of the regulatory framework under Drones Rules, 2021 are as follows:
- Every drone, except for those meant for research, development and testing purposes, is required to be registered and should have a Unique Identification Number (UIN).
- An airspace map of the country segregating the entire airspace into red, yellow and green zones is available on the digital sky platform. Operation of drones in red and yellow zones is subject to the approval of the Central Government and the concerned Air Traffic Control (ATC) authority respectively. No approval is required for operation of drones in green zones.
- The State Government, the Union Territory Administration and Law enforcement agencies have been empowered under the Rules to declare a temporary red zone for a specified period.
- Drones are required to have the necessary type certification issued by Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). No type certification is however required in case of nano drones (up to 250 gram all-up weight) and model drones made for research and recreation purpose.
- The owner and operators of drones are required to furnish the necessary personal details including their Indian passport number etc. for issuance of any registration or licence.
- Drone operations that violate the provisions of the Drone Rules, 2021 are punishable under Rule 49 of the Drone Rules, 2021 as well as provisions of any other law, for the time being in force.