It was in March that the Aviation Ministry published UAS Rules, 2021. However, citing industry feedback Ministry of Civil Aviation decided to repeal the UAS Rules, 2021 and replace them with new liberalised drone policy which was announced on Thursday.
Accordingly, the new Drone Rules, 2021, do away with approvals to a very large extent; which is unique authorization number, unique porotype identification number, certificate of conformance, certificate of maintenance, certificate of manufacturing and airworthiness, import clearance acceptance of existing drones, operator permits, student remote pilot license, remote pilot instructor license, drone port authorization, authorization of R&D organization etc.
One of the other significant takeaways of the new Drone Rules, 2021 is a major relief for non-commercial users. No pilot license will be required for operating nano drones and micro drones for non-commercial use.
While some of the rules pertaining licensing and registration have been relaxed, safety measures like ‘No Permission—No take off (NPNT), real-time tracking beacon, geo-fencing etc. will be notified in the future. A minimum six-month lead time will be provided for compliance.
Paperwork & permissions simplified
The rules also state that online registration of all drones shall happen through Digital Sky Platform. There will also be no security clearance required before any registration or license issuance, while the paperwork has also been greatly simplified. The number of forms/permissions have been reduced from 25 to 5. Alongside, the fees for permission have also been brought down to nominal levels and the fee has also been delinked with the size of drone.
The earlier fee for remote pilot license was Rs 3,000, which is now down to Rs 100 for all categories of drones. It is not just the quantum, but types of fees have also been reduced from 72 to 4.
On the same lines, an easy process has been prescribed for the transfer, and deregistration of drones and also for the regularisation of existing drones in the country.
Rules pertaining red, green and yellow zones
As per the updated rules, an interactive airspace map with green, yellow and red zones will be displayed on the digital sky platform. The yellow zone has also been reduced from 45 kms to 12 kms from the airport perimeter.
There is another major relief in the form that no permission will be required for operating a drone in green zones and upto 200 feet in the area between 8 and 12 kms from the airport perimeter.
Penalty for non-compliance
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.
Safety measures, training, import
All drone training and examination are to be carried out by an authorised drone school. DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) shall prescribe training requirements, oversee drone schools and provide pilot training licenses online.
Type certification of drones delegated to Quality Council of India and certification entities authorised by it. No requirement of type certificate, unique identification number, prior permission and remote pilot license for R&D entities. The import of drones will be regulated by DGFT (Directorate General of Foreign Trade).
The rules also provide for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Promotion Council to be set up to facilitate a business-friendly regulatory regime. Drone corridors are also on the anvil for cargo deliveries.