Draft Indian Drone Regulations

The flying of drones is currently forbidden in India. But that is all set to change with new Indian Drone Regulations proposed by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

Many countries have regulations for drones in place, some having gone through several iterations to keep up with developments and the needs of drone pilots. Recently, Australia, the European Union, & the United Kingdom have all consulted on there drone regulations of part of this process.

Many others don’t. Some outright ban the use of drones. Others drone have regulations in place or created an unclear process  This can lead to a de facto ban on their activities.

This is the case in India, but I will not be for long. The DGCA has published draft guidelines for drones in India.

India Today reported the Civil Aviation Minister, Ashok Gajapathi Raju, as saying:

“Drones have a lot of capability, hence, it was generating a lot of interest. Not having any regulations amounted to a complete ban. So, we decided to go ahead and develop a regulatory framework.”

Summary of the Proposed Indian Drone Regulations

You can read the full draft of the Indian drone regulations here. The draft Indian Drone regulation document is only 24 pages. That’s shorter than most and shouldn’t take too long to read.

Overview

  • Introduction
  • Acronyms & Definitions
  • Category of Remotely Piloted Aircraft
    • How India is defining the categories of the drones based on their maximum take-off weight. More below.
  • Applicability
    • States the applicability of the regulations:
      • Drones which are remotely piloted from a  remote pilot station.
      • It’s not applicable to remotely piloted aircraft systems manufacturing.
      • Autonomous aircraft are strictly prohibited.
      • There is also a note to aero-modellers.
  • Application Process
    • When all the documents are received the DGCA will consider applications on a case-by-case basis.
  • Requirements for Issue of Unique Identification Number (UIN)
  • Requirements for Issue of Unmanned Aircraft Operator
  • Security/Safety Aspect
    • The owner/operator is responsible.
    • You need to keep the ground control station secure.
    • Accidents need to be reported (unless the class in Nano).
    • Drones with UINs can’t be sold or disposed of without the permission of the DGCA.
  • Training Requirements for Remote Pilots
    • No training is needed for Nano and Micro drones, but “the user shall be fully aware of his/her responsibilities”.
    • Drone pilots must be over 18.
    • Drone pilots must be trained to an equivalent level of ground training to a manned aircrew or hold a Private Pilots Licence and undergo practical training that covers:
      • Basic Radio Telephony (RT) techniques including knowledge of radio frequencies.
      • Flight Planning and ATC procedures.
      • Regulations specific to area of operations.
      • Basic knowledge of multi-rotors and fixed-wing operations.
      • No-fly zone awareness.
  • Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems Maintenance
    • Basically says you need to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and be satisfied the radio link is working before a flight.
  • Equipment Requirements
    • Details of the equipment requirements of your drones. More on this below.
  • Requirements for Operation of Remotely Piloted Aircraft
  • Legal Obligations
  • Insurance
  • Enforcement Action
  • Forms
    • From page 13 to 23 there are various forms.
  • Unmanned Aerial Systems Test Sites
    • The last page of the draft regulations lists a number fo testing and demonstration areas for drones. The state, names of the place, coordinates of locations are listed. However, there are no contact details or what the offering of these test areas is.

Weight Categories

The drone weight categories India is looking at are:

  1. Nano: Less than or equal to 250 g
  2. Micro: Greater than 250 g and less than or equal to 2 kg
  3. Mini: Greater than 2 kg and less than or equal to 25 kg
  4. Small: Greater than 25 kg and less than or equal to 150 kg
  5. Large: Greater than 150 kg

Once again we see the 250 g appear as the first weight partition. It seems like 250 g is becoming the first weight threshold agreed by multiple aerospace regulators.

Equipment Requirements

There is quite a substantial list of equipment requirements for drones set out in the regulations.

For all drones (except Nano) the require the following equipment:

  • Identification Plate
  • GPS for horizontal and vertical position fixing
  • Autonomous Flight Termination System or Return to Home (RH) option
  • Flashing anti-collision strobe lights
  • RFID and GSM SIM Card Slot for APP based tracking

I find it a little interesting that an “Autonomous Flight Termination System or Return to Home” is required when earlier in the document it’s clearly stated: “Operation of autonomous aircraft are strictly prohibited”. Well, they could mean fully autonomous aircraft. But then again, it does say strictly. We’re going to need some clarity here.

And if you are planning on going over 200 ft then there are even more equipment requirements:

  • SSR transponder (Mode ‘C’ or ‘S’) or ADS-B OUT equipment
  • Barometric equipment with capability for remote subscale setting
  • Geo-Fencing capability
  • Detect and Avoid capability

Police Notification and Indoor Flight

Hidden in the applicability section of draft Indian drone regulations is this note:

Model aircraft (MTOW upto 2 kg, without any payload) flown below 200 ft inside educational institution premises will not require UIN and/or UAOP. Aero – modellers/recreational flyers under this category shall be fully responsible for its operation, safety and security. They shall inform the local police authorities before undertaking such activities even for
indoor operation.

It’s nice to see an exception made for education institutions. However, it does seem a little draconian to inform the police for indoor flights.

Have Your Say on the Indian Drone Regulations

Commenting on this draft is open until the 1st December 2017. So if you are planning to fly drones in India then you may wish to make your voice.

Comments should be addressed to:

Hillol Biswas, Director (AED), Office of the Director General of Civil Aviation, Opp. Safdarjung Airport, Aurobindo Marg, New Delhi – 110 003

Email: hbiswas.dgca@nic.in