From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Not much
Mains level : Draft Drone Rules, 2021
The central government has notified the Drone Rules 2021, a much more liberalised regime for unmanned aircraft systems than what existed previously.
Key features of Drone Rules 2021
These rules are built on a premise of trust, self-certification and non-intrusive monitoring. The policy is designed to usher in an era of super-normal growth while balancing safety and security considerations.
- Several approvals abolished: Unique authorisation number, unique prototype identification number, certificate of manufacturing and airworthiness, certificate of conformance, certificate of maintenance, import clearance, acceptance of existing drones, operator permit, authorisation of R&D organisation, student remote pilot licence, remote pilot instructor authorisation, drone port authorisation etc.
- Number of forms reduced: from 25 to 5.
- Types of fees: reduced from 72 to 4.
- Quantum of fee: reduced to nominal levels and delinked with size of drone. For instance, the fee for a remote pilot license fee has been reduced from INR 3000 (for large drone) to INR 100 for all categories of drones; and is valid for 10 years.
- Digital sky platform: It shall be developed as a user-friendly single-window system. There will be minimal human interface and most permissions will be self-generated.
- Interactive airspace map: with green, yellow and red zones shall be displayed on the digital sky platform within 30 days of publication of these rules.
- No permission required in green zones: Green zone means the airspace upto a vertical distance of 400 feet or 120 metre that has not been designated as a red zone or yellow zone in the airspace map; and the airspace upto a vertical distance of 200 feet or 60 metre above the area located between a lateral distance of 8 and 12 kilometre from the perimeter of an operational airport.
- De-licensing: No remote pilot licence required for micro drones (for non-commercial use) and nano drones. No requirement for security clearance before issuance of any registration or licence. Nano and model drones (made for research or recreation purposes) are exempt from type certification.
- Foreign ownership: No restriction on foreign ownership in Indian drone companies.
- Import: Import of drones to be regulated by DGFT. Requirement of import clearance from DGCA abolished.
- Size of drones: Coverage of drones under Drone Rules, 2021 increased from 300 kg to 500 kg. This will cover drone taxis also.
- Testing of drones: for issuance of Type Certificate to be carried out by Quality Council of India or authorised testing entities.
- UID: Manufacturers and importers may generate their drones’ unique identification number on the digital sky platform through the self-certification route. Drones present in India on or before 30 Nov 2021 will be issued a unique identification number through the digital sky platform provided, they have a DAN, a GST-paid invoice and are part of the list of DGCA-approved drones.
- Penalties: Maximum penalty for violations reduced to INR 1 lakh.
- Permission: Safety and security features like ‘No permission – no takeoff’ (NPNT), real-time tracking beacon, geo-fencing etc. to be notified in future. A six-month lead time will be provided to the industry for compliance.
- Drone corridors: will be developed for cargo deliveries.
- Drone promotion council: to be set up by Government with participation from academia, startups and other stakeholders to facilitate a growth-oriented regulatory regime.