10 Things You Should Know About India's New Drone Rules 2021

The new rules are aimed to give a boost to startups in the space and generate job opportunities

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In an effort to support startups working in the field of drones, the Indian government has notified Drone Rules, 2021. This announcement by the ministry of civil aviation is being looked at as a far more liberalized regime for unmanned aircraft systems than what existed before. 

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“The new Drone Rules will tremendously help startups and our youth working in this sector. It will open up new possibilities for innovation and business. It will help leverage India’s strengths in innovation, technology and engineering to make India a drone hub,” tweeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday.

The draft rules for the new policy announced in July 2021, some weeks after a drone attack at an Indian Air Force base in Jammu, was issued to ensure ease of using drones in India on the basis of "trust, self-certification and non-intrusive monitoring", said an official statement by the ministry of civil aviation in July. 

The aim of the government is to make India a global drone hub by 2030 and to ensure drone application in transportation, logistics, defense, mining, infrastructure sectors and more, which will generate job opportunities.

Here are 10 things you should know about the new Drone Rules 2021:

Number Of Forms Reduced

In a major relief to drone companies, the number of forms that have to be filled to operate drones has been reduced from 25 to five.

Number Of Fees To Be Paid Cut Down

The total number of fees that are to be paid to operate drones has been reduced from a massive 72 to four. Besides, the quantum of fees, which was earlier linked to the size of the drone, has been reduced and delinked from the size. For example, a remote pilot license fee has been reduced from INR 3,000 for a large drone to a meager INR 100 for all categories of drones, which will be valid for 10 years.

Some Approvals Abolished

Approvals such as unique authorization number, unique prototype identification number, certificate of manufacturing and airworthiness, certificate of conformance, certificate of maintenance, import clearance, acceptance of existing drones, operator permits, authorization of R&D organization, student remote pilot license, remote pilot instructor authorization, and drone port authorization have been abolished.

Security Relaxations

Till now, prior to the issuance of a registration or license for the operation of drones, security clearance was necessary. The current rules stipulate that from now on no security clearance is now required before any registration or license issuance.

Foreign Ownership Allowed

Foreign ownership has been allowed in Indian drone companies. Manufacturing drones only for exports and importing are now exempt from type certification and unique identification number. Manufacturers and importers will be able to generate their drones’ unique identification number on the Digital Sky Platform through the self-certification route.

The import of drones will, however, continue to be regulated by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade.

Up To 500 kg In Weight

The new rules increase the all-up weight of an unmanned aircraft system from 300 kg to 500 kg. This brings heavy payload-carrying drones to use in the logistics and transportation sectors. This will also cover drone taxis. Additionally, drone corridors will be developed for cargo deliveries. 

Type Certification Delegated To Quality Council of India

Type Certification of drones has been delegated to the Quality Council of India and certification entities authorized by it. No type certificate, unique identification number, prior permission and remote pilot license will be required for research and development entities. It will also be required only when a drone is to be operated in India. Additionally, no pilot license is now required for operating nano drones and micro drones for non-commercial use.

Registration Through Digital Sky platform

The online registration of all drones will be through the Digital Sky Platform. The platform will have a display of an interactive airspace map with green, yellow, and red zones. The yellow zone has been reduced from 45 km to 12 km from the airport perimeter. Moreover, no permission will be needed for operating a drone in the green zones and up to 200 feet in the area between eight and 12 km from the airport perimeter.

Safety features like ‘no permission-no take-off’, real-time tracking beacon, geo-fencing, etc., will have to be notified soon. A minimum six-month will be given for compliance. 

Drone Training, Examination To Be Done By Authorised Drone School

The new rules state that the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) shall prescribe training requirements, oversee drone schools and provide pilot licenses online. And, the training and examination will be conducted by an authorized drone school. 

Carriage Of Arms, Ammunition Prohibited

“No person shall carry dangerous goods on unmanned aircraft unless such operation is in compliance with the Aircraft (Carriage of Dangerous Goods) Rules, 2003,” says the notification. Also, any accident involving drones should be reported within 48 hours. The maximum penalty for violations has also been reduced to INR 1 lakh. This, however, will not be applied to penalties in respect of violation of other laws.

S Shanthi

Written By

Entrepreneur Staff

Shanthi specialises in writing sector-specific trends,  interviews and startup profiles. She has worked as a feature writer for over a decade in several print and digital media companies. She is also a mom who looks forward to playing a game of cards with her tween daughter every evening after work.