Drone Certification TestThe Drone Rules, 2021: Taming The UAS – Transport

September 2, 2021by helo-10


The Drone Rules, 2021: Taming The UAS

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The Unmanned Aircraft System Rules, 2021 (“UAS
“) was released on March 12, 2021. Thereafter,
as required under Section 14 of the Aircraft Act, 1934, vide
notification of the Government of India in the MoCA number G.S.R.
489 (E), dated July 15, 2021 proposed the draft of the Drone Rules,
2021 (“Draft“) in supersession of the
UAS Rules. MoCA invited objections and suggestions from all parties
likely to be affected by the Draft and after incorporating the
necessary suggestions and in exercise of its powers under Sections
5, 10(2), 10A, 10B and 12A of the Aircraft Act, 1934 issued the
Drone Rules, 2021 (“Rules“) on August
25, 2021. Let us see the crucial aspects of the Rules to understand
its application, compliances and consequences for not following it
while operating an aircraft that can operate autonomously or can be
operated remotely without a pilot on board, known as unmanned
aircraft system (“UAS“) in India.

  1. Applicability: The Rules apply to all
    persons owning or possessing, or engaged in leasing, operating,
    transferring or maintaining UAS in India, all UAS that are
    registered in India, and all UAS that are being operated for the
    time being, in or over India. But, it shall not apply
    UAS except in case of UAS with maximum
    all-up-weight of more than 500 kg or UAS belonging to, or used by,
    the naval, military or air forces of the Union of India.

  2. Classification: The UAS shall be
    categorized into three categories of aeroplane, rotorcraft (a
    heavier-than-air aircraft supported in flight by the reactions of
    the air on one or more power driven rotors on substantially
    vertical axes
    ) and hybrid UAS (means a heavier-than-air
    UAS capable of vertical take-off and landing which depends
    principally on power-driven lift devices or engine thrust for the
    lift during the flight regimes and on non-rotating airfoil for lift
    during horizontal flight
    ) and they are further sub-categorised
    as (a) remotely piloted aircraft system
    (“RPAS“); (b) model RPAS (RPAS with
    all-up weight not exceeding 25 kg, used for educational, research,
    design, testing or recreational purpose only and operated within
    visual line of sight
    ); and (c) autonomous UAS. The UAS shall,
    based on the maximum all-up weight including payload, be classified
    as (a) Nano UAS: weighing less than or equal to 250 gm; (b) Micro
    UAS: weighing more than 250 gm, but less than or equal to 2 kg; (c)
    Small UAS: weighing more than 2 kg, but less than or equal to 25
    kg; (d) Medium UAS: weighing more than 25 kg, but less than or
    equal to 150 kg; and (e) Large UAS: weighing more than 150 kg.

  3. Certification of UAS: No person shall
    operate a UAS in India unless such UAS conforms to a type
    certificate or is exempted from the requirement of a type
    certificate. The central government may specify the standards for
    obtaining a type certificate for UAS on the recommendation of the
    Quality Council of India (“QCI“) and may
    promote the use of made-in-India technologies, designs, components
    and UAS and Indian regional navigation satellite system, namely,
    Navigation with Indian Constellation. Any person, who intends to
    obtain a type certificate, has to make an application on the
    digital sky platform (“DSP“) along with
    the fee as specified in Rule 46 and information/documents specified
    in Rule 9, which is examined by QCI and then a test report along
    with its recommendations is submitted to the DGCA within 60 days
    from the date of receipt of the application. The DGCA shall issue a
    type certificate based on the test report and recommendation
    received within 15 days of receiving such test report. No type
    certificate shall be required for manufacturing or importing a UAS
    or for operating a model remotely piloted aircraft system and a
    nano UAS. The Rules also allow acceptance of approvals given by
    foreign regulators and may issue type certification to that type of
    UAS. Import of UAS shall be regulated by the DGFT or any other
    entity authorised by the central government. The Rules provides
    that the central government would specify mandatory safety features
    to be installed on an UAS by persons owning it, which may include
    among others, “no permission no take off” hardware and
    firmware, real-time tracking beacon that communicates the UAS’s
    location, altitude, speed and unique identification number and
    geo-fencing capability (restricting the movement of unmanned
    aircraft system within a defined airspace
    ). Once specified,
    these features should be adopted within 6 months from the date of
    publication of such notification.

  4. Registration of UAS: No person shall
    operate a UAS without first registering it on the DSP and obtaining
    a unique identification number (“UIN“),
    unless exempted and also ensure conformity to a valid type
    approval. DGCA has to maintain registration record. Any person who
    intends to register and obtain a UIN for his UAS shall make an
    application on the DSP and upon verification issue a UIN to the
    applicant. The UIN of a UAS shall be linked to the unique serial
    number (“USN“) provided by the
    manufacturer and the USN of its flight control module and RPAS. No
    person shall replace the flight control module or RPAS of an UAS
    whose serial number is linked to such UAS’s UIN, without first
    updating, on the DSP, the USN of the new flight control module or
    RPAS, within a period of 7 days from the date of such replacement
    or before operating such UAS, whichever is earlier. A person owning
    an UAS manufactured in India or imported into India on or before
    the November 30, 2021 shall, within a period of 31 days make an
    application to register and obtain a UIN for his UAS. A person may
    transfer an UAS to another person by way of sale, lease, gift or
    any other mode, after providing requisite details of the
    transferor, transferee and UIN of the UAS on the DSP. Where a UAS
    registered in a person’s name is either permanently lost or
    permanently damaged, he shall, on arriving at a reasonable
    conclusion that it is so lost or damaged, apply for deregistration
    of such UAS.

  5. Airspace and Zoning: The central
    government may publish on the DSP, an airspace map for UAS
    operations segregating the entire airspace of India into red zone,
    yellow zone and green zone, with a horizontal resolution equal or
    finer than 10 meters. No person shall operate in a red zone or
    yellow zone without prior permission and no prior permission shall
    be required for operating in a green zone, subject to the
    provisions of Rule 21. The airspace map for UAS operations shall be
    so designed as to be programmatically accessible through a machine
    readable Application Programming Interface and interactive so that
    UAS pilots shall be able to plot their proposed flight plan and
    easily identify the zone within which it falls so as to assess
    whether or not they need to make an application for prior approval.
    Before commencing a UAS operation, a remote pilot shall mandatorily
    verify the DSP for any notification or restriction applicable to
    UAS operations in the intended area of operation. The central
    government may update the airspace map on DSP for UAS operations
    from time to time in order to change the status of an area from one
    zone to another and such change shall come into effect within 7
    days of the update.

  6. Obligations: No person shall (i)
    operate a UAS in a manner, either directly or indirectly, as to
    endanger the safety and security of any person or property; or (ii)
    carry or cause or permit to be carried in any UAS to, from, within
    or over India, any arms, ammunitions, munitions of war, implements
    of war, explosives and military stores, except with the written
    permission of the central government or any other person authorised
    by the central government in this behalf and subject to the terms
    and conditions of such permission; or (iii) carry dangerous goods
    on unmanned aircraft unless such operation is in compliance with
    the Aircraft (Carriage of Dangerous Goods) Rules, 2003; or (iv)
    violate the right of way of a manned aircraft and shall remain
    clear of all manned aircrafts. Accidents should be reported to the
    DGCA through the DSP within 48 hours of the accident.

  7. Remote pilot licence
    (“RPL“): A valid
    RPL enlisted on the DSP is mandatory to operate a UAS. Such RPL
    should mention the category, sub-category and classification of the
    UAS or a combination of these, for which it is issued. To get an
    RPL one must be 18-65 years of age, passed 10th exam and
    completed such training as may be specified by the DGCA from any
    authorised remote pilot training organisation. An RPL can be
    applied only after completing the necessary training. An RPL
    remains valid for 10 years only if it is enlisted on the DSP or
    unless suspended or cancelled. It can be renewed for another 10
    years. Such license would not be required for operating a nano UAS
    and a micro UAS for non-commercial purposes.

  8. Research, Development and Testing: The
    Rules gives a negative list of person who would not require a type
    certificate, UIN or prior permission and RPL for operating a UAS
    for research, development and testing.

  9. Insurance: The provisions of the Motor
    Vehicles Act, 1988 and rules made thereunder shall apply, mutatis
    mutandis, to the third party insurance of UAS and compensation in
    case of damage to life or property caused by such UAS provided that
    a nano UAS may operate without third party insurance. Such
    insurance may be specially designed for such operations and be
    approved by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of

  10. Offences: No person shall carry out any
    activity in contravention of the Rules. The contravention of Rule
    22 (operating UAS in a red zone or yellow zone without prior
    ) and Rule 27 (carriage of arms, ammunition,
    explosives and military stores, etc. without written permission of
    the central government
    ) shall be cognizable and
    non-compoundable. Any stress of weather or other unavoidable cause
    or circumstances, beyond the control of such person or without his
    knowledge or fault leading contravention of, or failure to comply
    with the Rules shall be considered as a valid defence in any
    proceeding. An opportunity of being heard shall be provided in any
    proceeding and upon satisfaction that a person has contravened or
    failed to comply with the Rules and recording of reasons in
    writing, levy a penalty up to 1 lakh rupees or even cancel or
    suspend any licence, certificate, authorisation or approval granted
    under the Rules. The DGCA or any person authorised by him, by
    general or special order in writing, may inspect any UAS, any
    related facility, interact with any personnel, and inspect any
    document or record for the purpose of securing compliance and such
    person should not be obstructed.

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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There is more to being a drone pilot than just buying a machine and flying in your backyard. It can be that simple, but most of us will need to understand some drone laws before we try to take to the sky.


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