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Draft UAV Guideline
Aug 11, 2016

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), commonly known as drones, have of late changed the concept of warfare. They have reduced the number of casualties that used to take place in a ‘manned platform’.  An aerial vehicle can be remotely controlled from thousands of kilometres away.

But rising Concern

  • A large variety of drones that can perform functions as diverse as taking photographs, carrying payloads and streaming live video are freely available in Indian markets, ready to be picked up for as low as Rs 35,000. But there are no rules or policies in place to ensure that they are operated safely and for legitimate purposes.
  • Drones, being unregulated earlier, posed a tremendous threat to security along with the coherent treat of espionage and snooping
  • UA operations present problems to the regulator in terms of ensuring safety of other users of airspace and persons on the ground.

How to meet this challenge:

In its efforts to regulate operations of unmanned flying devices like drones, which are increasingly posing challenge to regulators and personnel manning airspace, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has come out with draft guidelines for civil use of such machines.

Highlight of Draft

  • Issuance of unique identification number (UIN): All unmanned aircraft to be operated in India will require an Unique Identification Number (UIN) issued from the DGCA. This will be granted only to citizens of India, or a company or body that is registered and has its principal place of business in India, its chairman and 2/3rds of directors are citizens of India and its ownership and effective control is in the hands of Indian nationals.
  • Who require permission: All drone operators operating unmanned aircraft at or above 200 feet above ground level will required a UA Operator Permit (UAOP) from the DGCA. Users with drones that operate below that level out of restricted and danger areas as well as Temporary Segregated Areas (TSA) and Temporary Reserved Areas (TRA), will be required to obtain permission from the local administration. Model aircraft operating below 200 feet in uncontrolled airspace and indoor for recreational purposes will be permitted, including activities within the premises of educational institutions.
  • Security and ownership condition:The drone for which a UIN is issues cannot be sold or disposed off without permission from the DGCA. In case of loss, the operator will have to immediately notify the police, BCAS and DGCA. Any accidents will have to be reported to the Director of Air Safety, DGCA and BCAS within 24 hours as well.
  • Flying condition: Pilots will be required to be a minimum of 18 years old, and should have training equivalent to that undertaken by aircrew of manned aircraft or a private pilot’s license holder for aeroplanes or helicopters with FRTOL (Flight Radio Telephone Operator’s Licence). This is applicable only to drones flying above 200 feet, and not for pilots included in recreational flying.
  • It also states that drones can enter a controlled airspace only with prior approval of air traffic control and will require formulation of standing operating procedures.
  • A controlled airspace is an area where prior clearance of the air traffic control tower is required for flight movement. The restrictions ease as one travels further away from an airport. For instance controlled airspace of Mumbai airport covers a radius of 40 nautical miles (from airport) and a height of 14,000 feet and below. Outside 40 nautical miles area, a height up to 7,000 feet is not treated as controlled air space of Mumbai airport.
  • According to the rules, drones shall not be allowed to be flown over the entire air space of Delhi and also other sensitive locations such as nuclear plants or military facilities and areas within 50 km of international borders.

Analysis:

The DGCA draft regulation is a step in the right direction. Given the odds it is better to have a regulation around the use of these high-potential devices than have nothing at all. The bigger concern for the industry is enforceability of these regulations and ensuring that the DGCA has both the technology as well as the staff to ensure that the regulations are met. Now, the DGCA has one official overseeing every two aircraft while at the US Federal Aviation Administration there are on an average three officials overseeing every aircraft on its register,

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