Drone startups in country seek changes in policy drafted by govt

AUS

Drone startups in the country have come together and ask for rectification in the proposed policy for drones drafted by the government.

Last month, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha had said that regulations for operating drones in the country will be ready in the next 30 to 60 days.

Following the announcement, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) will place the draft rules on its website and seek comments from the public.

According to ET report, Drone startups — including Quidich Innovation Labs, Aarav Unmanned Systems, Asteria Aerospace, and Indrones, among others have raised the issue.

Ten other drone companies have expressed their interest to join the body called Drone Federation of India. The federation is a first of its kind in India, including drone manufacturers, service providers, and industry experts.

Tarun Malkani, former COO of Rio Tinto Diamonds has joined the body as an executive core committee member.

The top three concerns of drone companies who are part of the association include the proposed weight restriction of 2kgs and height restriction of 200 feet for drones used for various applications.

As per the proposed set of regulations, there are a number of operational formalities to be fulfilled for using drones in excess of these criteria. A key demand is to raise the bar on weight to at least 4 kgs and height restriction to at least 400 feet.

Almost in all other countries, which have framed regulations for drones, drones are allowed to fly up to 400 feet for commercial applications.

Among other key demands, drone companies have demanded faster approvals and allocation of more testing sites to foster indigenous drone manufacturing and R&D.

Another issue raised by the startups is to take ATC (Air Traffic Control) approval, however, there is no clarity on how to go about the registration of drones since every drone needs to have a Unique Identification Number.

US and China have already been experimenting with delivery through drones. A number of African nations—Kenya, Rwanda, Malawi, and more—have been using the technology to ferry HIV tests, deliver blood, and even combat poaching.

Under the proposed rules, companies such as Amazon and Flipkart will soon be able to use drones to deliver packages in India.

Govt’s proposed draft policy on drones

  • Drones have been classified into five segments on the basis of weight — from 250 grams to over 150 kilograms — and for commercial use, most of these will have to be registered with the aviation regulator.
  • Nano drones or those that weigh less than 250g and are capable of flying not more than 50 feet from the ground level will not need any permission.
  • Drones above that weight category and up to 2kg and can fly no higher than 200ft will need police permission. The ones weighing more than 2kg will need to apply for permissions, including one from the police, a license, and a flight plan.
  • There will be a restriction on flying drones in sensitive areas including around India Gate, international borders, within 500m from strategic locations, from mobile platforms such as car, ship or aircraft, over eco-sensitive zones like national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.
  • Government agencies will be free to use drones according to their own guidelines and will not be part of this framework.

Among other things, it also proposes restricting operations of UAVs within the sight of the operator and only during the daytime.

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