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Drones in India: Regulation and Registration Process

Drone also know as RPV, RPA, UAV, UAS can be operated without a human pilot on board from anywhere. Over the years they have transitioned from being used for Defense purpose to usage in photography, recreational activities, agriculture another area where usage of drones are being heavily explored is for delivery by logistics firms.

Drones in India are governed by the Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) issued by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) from time to time.

The Indian unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) market is expected to touch $885.7 million by 2021, with the global UAV market size approaching $21.47 billion. Also a report by PWC India pegs the grow at a CAGR of 18% during 2017-23 for the UAV market. 19,553 drones in India are registered on DGCA's Digital Sky platform as of March 2020.

Digital Sky is the platform for registration of RPA's in India. The RPA's are categorized in accordance with payloads as indicated below. Nano RPA which weight under 250 gms are currently exempt from registration, import licenses as well as No Permission No Take off compliance. one can fly them up to 50 ft and in enclosed premises.

It is essential for RPAs above Nano category to register on the platform and obtain a Unique Identification Number. The UIN shall be issued in 02 working days provided all the list of documents provided are correct.

Restrictions on Flying RPAs in certain airspace and areas:

  • 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;

A comprehensive list of other Do's and Don'ts is available on the Digital Sky.

Legal Penalties:

1) In case of violation of provisions of this CAR/ approved operating conditions, the UIN/ UAOP issued by DGCA shall be suspended/ cancelled.

2) Breach of compliance to any of the requirements and falsification of records/ documents shall attract penal action including imposition of penalties as per applicable IPCs (such as 287, 336, 337, 338 or any relevant section of IPC).

3) Necessary actions shall be taken as per relevant sections of the Aircraft Act 1934 / the Aircraft Rules 1937 or any statutory provisions. Source:

National Counter Rogue Drone Guidelines: Make in India for Unmanned Aircraft Systems:

Civil Aviation Requirements:

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