Govt launches registration portal ‘Digital Sky’ to fly drones

Drone

After a long wait, the Indian government has finally launched an online portal called ‘Digital Sky’ for drone registration under the fresh guidelines issued by the Ministry of Civil Aviation.

Now flying drones or Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) will be legal after December 1 as Director General of Civil Aviation’s (DGCA) new drone policy has come into effect. The government will give 30 days’ time to register and the operation is expected to start from January 1.

Users will be required to make one-time registration of their drones, pilots and owners on the platform. A drone owner has to register on www.dgca.nic.in to get a unique identification number or UIN. Getting a UIN will be required an address proof, a permit from the police and the department of telecom.

The UIN needs to be marked on a fire-proof plate that has to be installed on drone device before flying in the air.

The DGCA has defined five different categories of drones ie Nano: Less than or equal to 250 grams, Micro: From 250 grams to 2 kg, Small: From 2kg to 25 kg, Medium: From 25 kg to 150 kg and Large: Greater than 150 kg.

As per the new drone policy, Nano drones that weigh less than 250 grams will not need to be registered.

A user will need to a pay a fee of Rs 1,000 to get UIN and Rs 25,000 to get a fresh Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit (UAOP). In case of renewal of UAOP, a user needs to pay Rs 10,000.

For security reasons, these drones will only be allowed to fly during the daytime and within the “visual line of sight”. Flying in the ‘green zones’ will require only intimation of the time and location of the flights via the portal or the app. While ‘yellow zones’ requires a permission, the flights will not be allowed in the ‘red zones’.

The regulation also defines “no-drone zones” like areas around airports, near the international border, Vijay Chowk in New Delhi, state secretariat complexes in state capitals, and strategic locations and vital military installations.

A case under the Indian Penal Code can be filed for flying a drone in a prohibited zone.

While the fresh guidelines appear encouraging for drone startups in areas such as photography, they didn’t serve any real purpose for hardware startups focusing on sectors including agriculture and e-commerce for several reasons.

The new guidelines require drone operators to inform police each time before taking a flight. It’s a regulatory hindrance. According to drone experts and enthusiasts, nano drones operating below 50 feet are useless.

Comparatively, the West and China have laid encouraging guidelines for drones and even experimenting with e-commerce and food delivery through them.

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