Game of Drones: India’s Regulations for Drones
With the advancements in technology, applications of drones have become common in various areas of fields such as infrastructure, crowd, disaster management, agriculture, photography, journalism and others. It has been projected that by 2020, the drone industry would be as big as a $100 billion economy. This has also become one of the major concerns for policymakers, as the drones can violate privacy rights of individuals, expose security plans and other safety concerns. There have been a few incidences where drones where found near airport premises and close to manned aircraft, thereby causing major safety concerns.
Such concerns have forced policy makers to come out with the rules on the same. Following to which Directorate General of Civil Aviation (“DGCA”) has come out with its policy. The drone policy, named Drone Regulations 1.0 (“Regulations”) came into effect from December 1, 2018. The article showcases the key points in the Regulations currently in force.
What’s in the Policy
The DGCA for the purpose of regulating drones have come out with following key points:
Nano: Having less than or equal to 250 grams;
Micro: Greater than 250 grams and less than or equal to 2 kg;
Small: Greater than 2 kg and less than or equal to 25 kg;
Medium: Greater than 25 kg and less than or equal to 150 kg; and
Large: Greater than 150 kg
2. Process for Filing an Application:
Any consumer who is importing or buying drone needs to file an application according to the format provided in the new regulation. There is a distinction drawn between drones being attained locally or imported from other country. The applications are submitted through “Digital Sky” mobile application and website.
3. Unique Identification Number (“UIN”):
All civil drone applicants will have to apply to DGCA for obtaining UIN. The UIN is to be issued through the mobile application or website on payment of Rs. 1000/- and the DGCA is bound to issue the UIN within a stipulated period of time. All drones are required to follow this procedure except nano and those owned by central intelligence agencies and some permitted research organisations.
4. Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permits (“UAOP”):
Except Nano and Micro classification, a remote pilot applying for UAOP must be 18 years old. For heavier drones, or for commercial drone, or above the “exempted” height, one may apply for an UAOP again. The same shall be done through a mobile application or website by paying Rs. 25,000/-.
5. Pilot Training Requirement:
Pilots of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (“RPA”) operating heavy drones or for commercial use are required to attain a formal “training”.
6. Digital Sky Platform:
It is the first-of-its-kind national unmanned traffic management (UTM) platform called the Digital Sky (“Platform”). It’s the same platform where drone pilots, operators and manufacturers need to register themselves and obtain their UIN.
The Platform showcases different colour zones to the applicant while applying such as:
Red Zone: Flying not permitted;
Yellow Zone: Permission required before flying (controlled airspace); and
Green Zone: Automatic permission (uncontrolled airspace).
7. Mandatory Equipment:
Except the nano category, there are few mandatory equipment required for Remote Piloted Aircraft System (“RPAS”), which include the following:
Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) also known as Global Positioning System (GPS),
Flight controller with flight data logging capability, and
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and SIM for enabling No-Permission No-Take-off (NPNT).
8. Flying Restrictions:
According to the Regulations, drones needs to be operated during the daytime only and up to a maximum altitude of 400 feet and within the visual line of sight (VLoS). The Regulations don’t permit food, grocery and other deliverables through drones currently.
Under the currently Regulations all RPAS operators are required to have an insurance for the liability that might occur due to any damage to third party as a result of accident or incident.
10. Enforcement Action:
In the case of any violation by the operator in lieu of the conditions in the Regulations, the following steps can be taken by the concerned authorities:
UIN/UAOP may be suspended or cancelled;
Penal action under the Indian Penal Code, 1860 may be taken; and
Necessary actions under the Aircraft Act, 1934 or the Aircraft Rules, 1937 may be taken.
Since it’s the first set of Regulations in the Indian drone market. DGCA is open to widen the scope of regulations based on real feedback and operational issues. The task force, under the chairmanship of Mr. Jayant Sinha (Minister of State for Civil Aviation), is already working on Drone Regulations 2.0, which will open more opportunity for personal and commercial use. With the new regulations in India will inch closer to commercialization. The new regulation is expected to pave way for taxis to delivery vehicles and other range of futuristic applications. The regulations are expected to come into effect in March 2019. Till then the old Regulations shall be in force.
[This post has been authored by Karan Dhingra, fifth year law student of Jindal Global Law School, O.P. Jindal Global University during his course of internship at Sapphire and Sage Law Offices]
 Drone Regulations 1.0 can fetch India major slice of $100 billion industry, 9th January 2019, Available at: https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/india/drone-regulations-1-0-can-fetch-india-major-slice-of-100-billion-industry-3358411.html
 Government announces Regulations for Drones, Press Information Bureau, Government of India, Ministry of Civil Aviation, 27th August 2018, Available at: http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=183093
 Requirement for Operations of Civil Remoted Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS), Civil Aviation Requirements Section-3-Air Transport Series X Part I Issue I, GOVERNMENT OF INDIA, OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR GENERAL OF CIVIL AVIATION, 27th August 2018, Available at: http://dgca.nic.in/cars/D3X-X1.pdf
 Government announces Regulations for Drones, PIB Delhi, 27th August 2018, Available at: http://pib.nic.in/PressReleaseIframePage.aspx?PRID=1544087