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Drone Laws in India: Regulation and Registration Process

Updated: Mar 27

In recent years, the utilization of drones in India has evolved from primarily defense applications to a diverse array of uses including photography, recreational activities, agriculture, infrastructure monitoring, surveillance, and delivery services. As the popularity of drones continues to rise, the Indian government has taken proactive measures to implement regulations aimed at ensuring safety, security, and privacy in their operation. At the core of these regulations lies the Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) framework issued by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), providing comprehensive guidelines for drone operation in India. Drones, also referred to as RPVs, RPAs, UAVs, or UAS, are subject to these regulations.



Categorisation of UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) in India: UAS encompasses aircraft capable of operating autonomously or remotely without a pilot onboard. The categorization of UAS in India involves three main categories: airplane, rotorcraft, and hybrid unmanned aircraft systems. These categories further subdivide into remotely piloted aircraft systems, model remotely piloted aircraft systems, and autonomous unmanned aircraft systems. Classification of UAS is based on maximum all-up weight, including payload, with distinctions made for nano, micro, small, medium, and large UAS.

Nano

Less than or equal to 250 grams

Micro

Greater than 250 grams and less than or equal to 2 kg

Small

Greater than 2 kg and less than or equal to 25 kg.

Medium

Greater than 25 kg and less than or equal to 150 kg.

Large

Greater than 150 kg.

Unique Identification Numbers (UIN) and Drone Acknowledgment Numbers are issued for registering UAS in India, facilitating regulatory compliance.

Registration Process for Drones in India: The Government of India now mandates that all individuals and unmanned aircraft (UAs) complete registration on the Digital Sky platform. This registration process entails obtaining a Unique Identification Number (UIN) and acquiring an Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit (UAOP) license. Additionally, individuals are required to undergo training and secure necessary permissions before commencing drone operations. This directive aims to regulate and ensure the safe and responsible use of drones in Indian airspace.

  1. Type Certificate Application (Form D-1): Operators must apply for a type certificate to ensure compliance with regulatory standards.

  2. Unique Identification Number Application (Form D-2): Submission of this form is necessary for obtaining a unique identification number for the drone.

  3. Transfer of Unmanned Aircraft Systems Application (Form D-3): This form is utilized for transferring ownership of UAS, ensuring proper documentation of ownership changes.

  4. Remote Pilot Certificate Application (Form D-4): Operators seeking authorization to pilot drones remotely must apply for a remote pilot certificate.

  5. Authorization of Remote Pilot Training Organization Application (Form D-5): Organizations offering remote pilot training must apply for authorization to conduct such training.

Restrictions on Flying Drones in certain airspace and areas in India:

  • During daylight (between sunrise and sunset).

  • Within 3 km from perimeter of military installations/ facilities/ where military activities/ exercises are being carried out unless clearance is obtained from the local military installation/facility;

  • Within a distance of 5 km from the perimeter of airports at Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Bengaluru and Hyderabad;

  • Over eco-sensitive zones around National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries notified by Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change without prior permission.

  • Within 3 km from radius of State Secretariat Complex in State Capitals;

  • From a mobile platform such as a moving vehicle, ship or aircraft;

  • Within 25km from international border which includes Line of Control (LoC), Line of Actual Control (LAC) and Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL);

  • Beyond 500 m (horizontal) into sea from coast line provided the location of ground station is on fixed platform over land;

Legal Penalties under Drone Rules 2021: Prosecution for offences. – (1) A person who has contravened or failed to comply with these rules shall be punishable by the Court in accordance with the provisions of sub-section (2) of Section 10 of the Aircraft Act, 1934 and such contraventions or non-compliance shall be compoundable in accordance with the provisions of Section 12A of the Aircraft Act, 1934. (2) The provisions of these rules shall be in addition to, and not in derogation of the provisions of any other law, for the time being in force.

  1. Penalties. – Where the Director General or an officer authorised by the Central Government, State Government or Union Territory Administration; after giving an opportunity of being heard, is satisfied that a person has contravened or failed to comply with the provisions of these rules, he may, for reasons to be recorded in writing, levy a penalty not exceeding rupees one lakh in accordance with the provisions of Section 10A of the Aircraft Act, 1934.

  2. Cancellation or suspension.— Where the Director General or an officer authorised by the Central Government, State Government or Union Territory Administration; after giving an opportunity of being heard, is satisfied that a person has contravened or failed to comply with the provisions of these rules, he may, for reasons to be recorded in writing, cancel or suspend any licence, certificate, authorisation or approval granted under these rules.


 

Source:

National Counter Rogue Drone Guidelines:

Civil Aviation Requirements:

Drone Rules 2021:


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