NEW DELHI: Want to fly a drone? Now you can do it, albeit under a slew of regulations issued by the government. The new drone policy allows recreational, personal or commercial use of drones from December this year but with several riders. The chief one being the drone can be flown only within the line of sight of the person using it. This effectively rules out drones being used for delivery of goods, a prospect that had been exciting many. The government has, however, assured that it would prepare guidelines in future for allowing use of drones even beyond the line of sight. Drones can be used for a slew of commercial purposes such as aerial survey of real estate projects, especially in hills; for personal purposes such as photography; and for educational purposes such as within colleges for training.
Below are how drones can be used and how they cannot, according to the new guidelines:
Here’s what is allowed:
Register and fly
Drones have been categorised in five different categories based on weight – starting at less than 250 gm and the largest ones weighing more than 150 kg – and their end use. Barring the smallest (nano category of drones), all other categories of drones — micro, small, medium and large — need to be registered.
Manufacturing drones or remotely piloted aircraft
All the provisions listed by the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in the drone policy are not applicable to manufacturing of drones. This simply means that the firms can manufacture drones as they used to do earlier. However, the new policy has defined different categories based on maximum takeoff weight which means manufacturers will have to keep in mind the needs of the consumers and policy restrictions while manufacturing drones. For example, if a drone is going towards an unauthorised area, it should have a functionality to come back to its base area.
Flying small drones without permission
Seeking permission for flying a drone can be a big hassle for people but an exception has been made in the new policy. If a model aircraft with maximum take-off weight up to 2 kg without any payload is being flown below 200 ft inside closed premises, then there is no need of any sort of permission.
Flying without UIN
Many educational institutes have now incorporated practical hands-on experience for their students to teach them with drones. This can be for aerial photography or recreational purposes. The good news for such institutes is that they don’t have to apply for a unique identification number or UIN. Aeromodellers/recreational flyers under this category will be fully responsible for operation, safety and security of a drone. However, they will have to inform inform the local police before undertaking such activities even for indoor operation.
Here’s what is not allowed:
Operation of autonomous aircraft are strictly prohibited
Operating an autonomous aircraft without any permission or UIN is now prohibited. All the prerequisites according to the given conditions have to be met unless the remotely piloted aircraft falls under any of the specified drone categories.
Flying near operational airports
Flying within an area of five km from airport reference point of operational airports is prohibited. An airport (or aerodrome) reference point (ARP) is the centre point of an airport.
Flying over dense population
Flying without prior approval over densely populated areas or over or near an area affecting public safety or where emergency operations are underway is prohibited. Densely populated areas will include most of the commercial and residential areas in big cities.
Flying near border
For obvious security reasons, flying within 50 km of international border which includes Line of Control (LoC), Line of Actual Control (LAC) and Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL) is prohibited.
Flying too deep into the sea
Taking a flight beyond 500 meter (horizontally) into the sea from coastline, provided the location of the ground station is on a fixed platform over land, is prohibited.
Flying near strategic locations
You cannot fly a drone within five km radius of Vijay Chowk in Delhi, which would include all the vital government installations such as the President House and Parliament. Similarly, flying within 500 meter of the perimeter of military installations/facilities and strategic locations notified by Ministry of Home Affairs is also prohibited.
Flying on the move
You cannot fly a drone from a mobile platform such as a moving vehicle, ship or aircraft.