drone pilot industryThe Drone Rules, 2021: Summary And Key Takeaways – Transport

September 25, 2021by helo-10
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India:

The Drone Rules, 2021: Summary And Key Takeaways


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The Drone Rules, 2021 were released for public consultation
by the government on 15th July 2021. The rules came
into effect on 25th August 2021 and seek to revamp
the regulatory regime for drones. These rules are more permissive
and have improved the ease of doing business from the previous two
iterations of regulations on drones. This blogpost summarises the
provisions of the Drone Rules and highlights takeaways for drone
operators and manufacturers.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation or MoCA, in August 2021, notified
the Drone Rules 2021. These rules were released just 6 months after
the previous draft of regulations on drones, the Unmanned Aircraft
System Rules, 2021 (UAS Rules), released in March 2021.  This
blogpost summarises the Drone Rules and tracks changes made from
the UAS Rules.

Highlights of the Drone Rules, 2021

  • The Drone Rules apply to drones with an all-up-weight (weight
    of drone and payload together) of 500 kg, an upgrade from the
    previous limit of 300 kg.1 The weight categories
    for classifying drones as nano, micro, small, medium and large have
    been retained from the UAS Rules.

  • The additional factors of maximum speed attainable in flight
    and maximum attainable height used in classification of nano drones
    have been removed. All unmanned aircraft systems shall now be
    categorised only by their all-up-weight.

  • Online registration of all drones will take place on the
    Digital Sky platform, an online platform that will be used to
    regulate registration and operation of drones. This will be a
    single-window registration mechanism and no separate clearances are
    required to be sought from other departments.

  • Manufacturers of drones will need to obtain Type Certificates
    through the Digital Sky platform for each new model of a drone. The
    drone will need to be physically handed over to Quality Council of
    India or an authorised testing entity for examination before the
    Type Certificate is issued. QCI is required to issue regulations on
    requirements for obtaining Type Certificates for different types of
    drones.

  • The Type Certificate number will be given by the manufacturer
    to users, which they can use to obtain a Unique Identification
    Number through the Digital Sky platform for each individual
    drone.

  • Deadlines set for the regulator for issuing Type Certificates
    and the interactive maps on the Digital Sky Platform. Type
    Certificates need to be issued within 75 days of the application
    being submitted. The interactive map will be uploaded within 30
    days of the rules being notified.

  • No Type certificates required for a model remotely piloted
    aircraft system or for a nano unmanned aircraft system.

  • Import of drones will be regulated only by the Directorate
    General of Foreign Trade.

  • Foreign companies can now own and operate drones in India.

  • Future regulations may mandate the inclusion of safety features
    on drones. The earlier mechanism of No Permission No Takeoff will
    not be implemented immediately.

  • The government will set up an interactive map with 3 kinds of
    zones- green, yellow and red. Prior permission is required to fly
    only in the red and yellow zones. The government is required to
    release the map by 24th September 2021.

  • All drone operators except those operating nano drones or micro
    drones for noncommercial purposes need to obtain a drone pilot
    license. Drone pilots applying for a license are required to
    complete training from an authorised remote pilot training
    organisation.

  • Recognised research and development bodies, educational
    institutions, start-ups, or other authorised testing entities do
    not need to obtain a UIN, type certificate, remote pilot license,
    or other clearances to test in a green zone that is under their
    control.

  • The provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 concerning third
    party insurance will apply to drones as well.

  • An Unmanned Aircraft System Promotion Council will be set up
    that shall facilitate progress for the industry.

  • There is no mention of Beyond Visual Line of Sight operations,
    drone swarms, imagery captured by drones, drones for delivery or
    drone ports in the present rules despite regulations on these
    topics under the previous rules (UAS Rules).

Summarising the Drone Rules, 2021










































S.No Provision Number Provision Topic Provision
1. 2 Applicability of Rules The Rules apply to all drones with maximum all-up-weights of up
to 500 kgs which are registered in India or being operated over
India.
2. 5 Categories of unmanned aircraft systems The categories of unmanned aircraft systems- aircraft that can
be operated either autonomously or remotely- are based only on
weight. There are four categories: Nano UAS: Less than 250 gmsMicro
UAS: Between 250 gms and 2 kgsSmall UAS: Between 2 kgs and 25
kgsMedium UAS: Between 25 kgs and 150 kgsLarge UAS: Between 150 kgs
and 500 kgs
3.   Permission Requirements Drone manufacturers need to obtain a Type Certificate for a
model of drone not certified yet.Drone operators need to obtain a
Unique Identification Number for each drone through registration
with the Type Certificate number obtained.Pilots flying drones
remotely need to obtain a drone pilot license to operate drones.
  (Exceptions for each requirement listed with in details
below)
4. 6, 7, 8, 9, 13 Type Certificate For each model of drone to be operated in India, a Type
Certificate is needed. The standards for obtaining a Type
Certificate are yet to be specified by the Quality Council of
India. An application can be filed on the Digital Sky platform
along with payment of fees. The details of the applicant and the
prototype need to be submitted and the prototype needs to be
physically handed over for inspection. A Type Certificate may be
issued on the recommendation of the Quality Council of India or an
authorised testing entity. The Type Certificate has to be issued
within 75 days of the form being filled.   Operators of model
remotely piloted aircraft (used for research and development) and
nano UAS do not need to obtain a Type Certificate for these
aircraft systems.
5. 14, 15, 16 Registration Drone operators need to register  by filling out the
relevant form on the Digital Sky platform along with payment of
fees. The Type Certificate number of the drone also needs to be
given, hence the model of drone being registered should already
have been granted a Type Certificate.   For drones
manufactured in India or imported before
30th November 2021, application for registration
should be made by 31st December 2021.
6. 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36 Remote Pilot License Any person piloting a drone requires a remote pilot license.
The person should be between 18 and 65 years of age, have passed
10th standard, and have completed training from an
authorised remote pilot training organisation.   Once the
training is completed, the pilot must fill the form for application
for a remote pilot license on the Digital Sky platform. Within 15
days of issuance of certificate of training completing by the
training organisation, the remote pilot license will be issued.
  License will be valid for 10 years.   Pilots operating
nano UAS or micro UAS for non-commercial purposes are exempt from
the Remote Pilot License requirements.
7. 44 Insurance All owners of drones except nano drones are required to obtain
third party insurance for the drones before operation. The rules
under Chapter XI of the Motor Vehicles Act 1988 will apply to third
party insurance of drones. Any Insurance Regulatory and Development
Authority of India approved insurance scheme may be used.  
 
8. 50 Penalty The maximum penalty for contravening or failing to comply with
the provisions of these rules is Rs. 1 Lakh.
9. 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24 Airspace Maps The Government will publish an airspace map on the Digital Sky
platform by 25th September 2021. The map will
segregate the airspace into red, yellow and green zones. Drone
operators require prior permission for flying in a red or yellow
zone. No prior permission or flight path registration is needed for
flying in green zones. The map will be dynamic and areas may be
subject to re-zoning. Senior officers may also declare an area as a
red zone for upto 96 hours at a time.   The map will be made
machine readable through APIs.
10. 27, 28 Carriage of goods No arms or munitions may be carried on any UAS. No dangerous
goods can be carried on a UAS unless compliant with Aircraft
(Carriage of Dangerous Goods) Rules, 2003. The UAS Rules had
defined a procedure for carriage of goods which has been omitted
from these rules. The Drone Rules specify no express procedure for
carriage of goods.
11. 29 Mandatory reporting of an accident Within 48 hours of an accident involving a UAS, the remote
pilot shall report the accident on the Digital Sky platform.
12. 10, 11 Import Imports will be regulated by the Directorate General of Foreign
Trade. There may be issuance of Type Certificates for imported
aircraft on the basis of approval by another country. The list of
such countries whose approvals will be accepted will be notified by
the Government.
13. 37, 38, 39, 40, 41 Remote Pilot Training Organisation An application for authorisation as a Remote Pilot Training
Organisation may be made on the Digital Sky platform. The
requirements of syllabus, trainers and infrastructure will be
specified at a future date. If the applicant complies with all of
the specified requirements, the license will be granted within 60
days of the applicant being made.   The authorisation is valid
for 10 years.
14. 42 Research and Development No remote pilot license, type certificate or unique
identification number is required for the organisations listed
below if they are operating in a green zone fully within the
organisation’s control. The organisations permitted to do this
are: R&D entity recognised by Central or State
governments.Educational institutions recognised by Central or State
governments.Startup recognised by the Department for Promotion of
Industry and Internal Trade;Any authorised testing entityAny
manufacturer of drones having a GST Identification Number
15. 12 Mandatory Safety Features In the future, the Government may notify owners of UAS to
install safety features which may include No Permission- No Takeoff
hardware and firmware, Geo-fencing capability and a real-time
tracking beacon.  

Once notified, operators of drones will have 6 months to comply
with the requirements.  

These features were included as mandatory requirements in previous
iterations of the regulations but currently have been omitted from
the Drone Rules.

16. 43 UAS Traffic Management The rules state that the Central Government  will release
a policy framework for traffic management of UAS on the Digital Sky
platform by 25th October 2021.
17. 45 UAS Promotion Council The government may set up a UAS Promotion Council which will
help develop a business-friendly regulatory regime, establish
incubators for UAS development, and involve policy experts and
academics in developing policy recommendations.
18. 17 Transfer of UAS When ownership or possession of UAS is being transferred, the
relevant form on the Digital Sky platform should be updated with
the details of the new owner/ possessor.
19. 18 Deregistration of UAS When the UAS is permanently lost or damaged, the owner should
apply for deregistration of the aircraft using the relevant form on
the Digital Sky platform.

Key Takeaways and Conclusion

  • The rules are intended to greatly improve the ease of doing
    business in the sector by reducing the number of clearances and
    compliance requirements for registration as well as the fees to be
    paid. Single window clearance will also make it much easier to own
    and operate drones.

  • The rules have omitted a number of onerous hardware and
    software requirements mandated in previous versions of the
    regulations such as geo-fencing capability, No Permission No
    Takeoff compliant hardware, and 360-degree collision avoidance
    system. This makes it easier for drones to be approved for
    operation at present. However, these rules leave scope for the
    government to introduce requirements for safety features at a
    future date. Once notified, these requirements will have to be
    complied with within a period of 6 months. This may lead to
    challenges for drone operators operating drones that do not have
    these features as they will need to either be made compliant or
    decommissioned from operations within the time period specified
    above.

  • There are a number of policies that the government will release
    in the near future which will shape how these rules are
    implemented. These include standards for import and manufacturing,
    policy on traffic management and requirement of safety
    features.

  • A number of regulations of importance to commerce such as
    Beyond Visual Line of Sight operations and drone swarms have been
    omitted from these rules, which were included in the UAS
    Rules.

  • The Government has left out a number of details specified in
    previous iterations of the regulations from the Drone Rules, 2021.
    The scope of drone operations permitted as well as commercial
    viability of certain types of drone operations will depend upon
    subsequent regulations that the government may notify.

This piece has been authored by Rahul Krishna, a consultant
working with Ikigai Business Consulting, with inputs from Aman
Taneja, Senior Associate at Ikigai Law and Anirudh Rastogi,
([email protected]), Managing Partner at Ikigai Law.

Footnote

1 Unmanned Aircraft System Rules, 2021 s 67.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.

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