Operators of unregistered drones to face 2 years jail or fine up to Rs 10 lakh


To regulate drones operating without civil aviation requirements, the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MCA) has issued an order to all drone owners to voluntarily register their drones before January 31.

If they fail to do so, the drone operators would be liable to face a prison sentence of up to two years or a fine of Rs 10 lakh under the Aircraft Act, 1936.

“In order to facilitate the identification of civil drones and drone operators, a one-time opportunity for voluntary disclosure of such drones and drone operators is now being provided,” said an aviation ministry order.

According to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) rules announced in 2018, drones must be registered on the Digital Sky portal and must obtain Drone Acknowledgement Number (DAN) and Ownership Acknowledgement Number (OAN) online.

“However, the DAN or OAN do not confer any right to operate drone (s) in India, if it does not fulfil the provisions given in the civil aviation rules,” added the order.

The possession of drone without DAN and OAN will invite penal action.

At present, there are no official data for the number of drones registered in India. As per an estimate, there are over 50,000 illegal drones in the country.

In December of 2018, the government legalised the flying of drones or Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS). Under new drone policy, the government defined five different categories — 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.

In October last year, the DGCA had selected seven firms, out of 34 applicants, which applied for long-range, or beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) drone experiments.

Among the firms selected are food and delivery companies Zomato, Swiggy and Dunzo, medical delivery providers Zipline and Redwing, and large enterprises Tata Advanced Systems and Honeywell.

These firms were asked to submit technical details by the civil aviation authority.

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