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Want to fly a Drone in India? Well You Can't

Want to fly a Drone in India? Well You Can't
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You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

Drones – is there anything they cannot do? Some people are calling them the future of transportation and technology. Others call them another toy for older people who refuse to accept they’re grown up. The military is using them for surveillance, spying missions and even bombing the life out of possible targets, attracting attention for addressing the future of warfare and the responsibility of innocent civilians killed in the process. Reports of the possibilities of terrorists using nuclear or chemical warfare via drones given their plausible deniability and anonymity, surpassing security measures easily exists.

On the other hand, Amazon’s testing them to deliver goods in less than an hour, and the internet dreams of a time where a drone can fetch you a chilled craft beer along with some piping hot pizza exists. Drones are also great for aerial videography shots – making the subject appear majestic, any time and every time. However, legally speaking – you can’t fly a drone for pleasure. Not without proper documentation and licensing and permissions, with a lot of paperwork involved to delay the process as much as possible, according to a proposed draft titled "Guidelines for obtaining Unique Identification Number (UIN) & Operation of Civil Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS)" issued by the Civil Aviation authorities. 

Purchasing a Drone

Unfortunately, Indian manufacturers of drones are yet to come close to the ultra-light weight long battery powered and long range drones that would be sturdy enough to work as advertised. So what’s your next bet? Order one online! Chances are, it would be caught by the Indian customs and then you’ll be asked to have a clearance from the wireless planning and coordination wing. What this means is you get a Unique Identification Number (UID) from Director General Civil Aviation (DGCA).

The paperwork

After you locate the DGCA, you would need to provide a valid proof of address, a permit from the nearest police station from and one from the telecommunication department. This is particularly a bottleneck because good luck trying to explain exactly what a drone is and what the permission will allow. You will need to give the specifications of the drone to the authorities and possibly pray they clear your papers soon. After all the documents are cleared you have to install a fire-proof plate over the panel that has the UID.


For drones flying over 200 feet, which is very reasonable for basically anything other than videography, you need to get permission from DGCA from the process specified above. For lower flying, you’ll need permission from the local administration – so basically no flying drones in your neighborhood to get a thrill of flying, unless you can thoroughly explain them what a drone is. But that’s not all, you also need:

– Permission from either a civil or defense Air Navigation Service (ANS) provider near you
– Details of remote piloting and training records, how or where to obtain these are unspecified as of now
– Accidental insurance
– Security clearance from the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security of India

Rights after you get your license

  • First of all, you need to be 18 years old to fly a drone, even for fun.
  • According to a newly proposed policy,  you may also need to take special ground training equivalent to that undertaken by actual aircrew of manned aircraft or a private pilot’s license holder to fly your drone, if it’s not a tiny drone for recreational purposes.
  • You’re not allowed to drop any object from the drone – so say goodbye to deliveries via drones (for now)
  • You cannot led the drone to someone else, even for temporarily testing it out.
  • All flights above 200 feet, must be reported of the flight pattern, even if you have the license and the drone is registered.

What do you think of the drone policing? Let us know in the comments on our official Facebook page Entrepreneur India

Edition: October 2016

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