Draft Drone Rules 2021 UPSC (Prelims and Mains)

Draft Drone Rules 2021 :The Civil Aviation Union Department issued a draft national drone policy on Thursday, making it easier for individuals and businesses to own and operate drones, while simplifying the labyrinth certification process for manufacturers, importers, and users. This move aims to promote the future Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia’s technology highlighted the highlights of the new policy in a series of tweets on Thursday. The document has been made available to the public until August 5th, and the public will be notified thereafter.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) has released the updated – The Drone Rules, 2021 for public consultation. Built on a premise of trust, self-certification, and non-intrusive monitoring, The Drone Rules, 2021 will replace the UAS Rules 2021 (released on 12 March 2021). The last date for receipt of public comments is 5 August 2021.

What are the important points of the policy?

  • Categories – The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has designed five different categories of drones as Nano, Micro, Small, Medium, and Large.
  • Under the new policy, Nano drones which weigh less than 250 grams or equal does not need a registration or license.
  • However, drones that belong to remaining categories will need to be registered on the Digital Sky portal.
  • Digital Sky portal – It is an online platform as part of an enforcement system designated as No Permission No Takeoff (NPNT).
  • Here, a drone operator can obtain all the necessary paperwork required.
  • It includes procedures to conduct a drone operation, including final flight permission immediately before the operation.
  • Permission – Following registration, DGCA will issue a Unique Identification Number (UIN) or Unmanned Aircraft Operator’s Permit (UAOP).
  • The fee for a fresh UIN is Rs 1,000. The fee for a fresh UAOP is Rs 25,000 and is valid for 5 years.
  • To get permissions to fly, RPAS (Remotely Piloted Air System) operators or remote pilots will have to file a flight plan.
  • Zones – Flying in the ‘green zones’ will require only intimation of the time and location of the flights via the portal or the app.
  • But permissions will be required for flying in ‘yellow zones’, and flights will not be allowed in the ‘red zones’.
  • The location of these zones will be announced soon. Permission, if granted, will be available digitally on the portal.
  • DGCA has also designated a set of test sites for drone manufacturers and operators to innovate in a safe and secure environment.
  • Drone Policy 2.0 – The ministry has constituted a task-force on the recommendation of Drone Policy 2.0.
  • This task-force is expected to release their final report by the end of this year.
  • Drone 2.0 framework for RPAS are expected to include
  1. regulatory architecture for autonomous flying
  2. delivery via drones
  3. beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) flights

What are the concerns about the current policy

  • The current regulations make it legal for non-governmental agencies, organisations and individuals to use UAVs.
  • But the high costs put them beyond the reach of NGOs and rural communities.
  • The processes and fees render it difficult for them to conduct drone operations without hiring companies, which again would increase the costs.
  • Besides this, some activities with the potential for market transformation are not currently permitted.
  • E.g. functional drone-based delivery is not allowed
  • It’s because it requires the operator to conduct BVLOS operations and for the drone itself to release payloads while in flight.
  • But this is considered to be a major growth area for the drone industry.
  • It is also a focus for research and development as it will have a significant impact in online retail and healthcare.

What lies ahead?

  • Drone applications are extremely relevant to India’s large rural population.
  • E.g. farming communities could cooperatively use drones to map vegetation stress, prevent crop-raiding by wild animals, conduct precise spraying of fertilisers and pesticides
  • So the necessary infrastructure must be put in place for the implementation of regulations without delay.
  • Aside from technical issues, the societal concern of making drone operation inclusive should be addressed.
  • More representatives from outside the drone industry including civil society organisations and advocacy groups should be involved in framing the subsequent versions of regulations.

Key takeaways from the Draft Drone Rules, 2021 include:

  • Approvals abolished: unique authorisation number, unique prototype identification number, 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 6.
  • Fee reduced to nominal levels. No linkage with the size of the drone.  
  • Safety features like ‘No permission – no take-off’ (NPNT), real-time tracking beacon, geo-fencing etc. to be notified in future. A six-month lead time will be provided for compliance. 
  • Digital sky platform shall be developed as a business-friendly single-window online system.   
  • There will be minimal human interface on the digital sky platform and most permissions will be self-generated.   
  • Interactive airspace map with green, yellow, and red zones will be displayed on the digital sky platform.  
  • Yellow zone reduced from 45 km to 12 km from the airport perimeter. 
  • No flight permission required upto 400 feet in green zones and upto 200 feet in the area between 8 and 12 km from the airport perimeter. 
  • No pilot licence required for micro drones (for non-commercial use), nano drone and for R&D organisations. 
  • No restriction on drone operations by foreign-owned companies registered in India.
  • Import of drones and drone components to be regulated by DGFT.   
  • No security clearance required before any registration or licence issuance.  
  • No requirement of certificate of airworthiness, unique identification number, prior permission and remote pilot licence for R&D entities.   
  • Coverage of drones under Drone Rules, 2021 increased from 300 kg to 500 kg.  This will cover drone taxis also. 
  • All drone training and testing to be carried out by an authorised drone school.  DGCA shall prescribe training requirements, oversee drone schools and provide pilot licences online. 
  • Issuance of Certificate of Airworthiness delegated to Quality Council of India and certification entities authorised by it.   
  • Manufacturer may generate their drone’s unique identification number on the digital sky platform through the self-certification route. 
  • Easier process prescribed for transfer and deregistration of drones. 
  • Standard operating procedures (SOP) and training procedure manuals (TPM) will be prescribed by DGCA on the digital sky platform for self-monitoring by users.  No approvals required unless there is a significant departure from the prescribed procedures.
  • Maximum penalty under Drone Rules, 2021 reduced to INR 1 lakh.  This shall, however, not apply to penalties in respect of violation of other laws. 
  • Drone corridors will be developed for cargo deliveries.  
  • Drone promotion council to be set up to facilitate a business-friendly regulatory regime.

These rules will replace the Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) rules that took effect in March 2021. “In the process of vigorously promoting the drone industry, I am very happy to launch the 2021 drone rules draft, which marks a radical change from the previous UAS rules. Ten key findings: cancellation of multiple approvals and Simplify the process; reduce the number of forms from 25 to 5; increase the drone coverage from 300 kg to 500 kg; reduce interest rates to nominal levels; reduce the yellow area from 45 kilometers around the airport to 12 kilometers; up to 12 kilometers in the park An altitude of 400 feet does not require a flight permit…” Scindia wrote.

 Since the device was used to attack the Indian Air Force (IAF) base in Jammu with explosives last month, drones have been the focus of attention. Defense officials have since stated that they are studying anti-drone technology. Typical consumer drones usually have some built-in protection measures, which means that not all drones are unsafe. Drones now form an important new category of consumer technology, especially among hobbyists and visual artists, and are being tested for various practical and industrial uses, such as automation. Package delivery for e-commerce companies. Last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi hosted a high-level ministerial meeting to discuss the long overdue policy on drones.

The existing regulations notified in March 2021 are considered to have a labyrinthine approval process. According to the draft rules, HT sees many of the approvals required above, such as unique authorization numbers, unique prototype identification numbers, certificates of conformity, etc. Maintenance certificates, import customs clearance, operator licenses, R&D agency authorization, and student remote-control driving licenses have been abolished. The draft rules also recommend reducing the cost to a nominal level, rather than linking the cost to the size of the drone. In order to simplify the rules, the rules stipulate that micro drones (non-commercial use), nano drones, and research and development (R&D) organizations do not require pilot licenses.

Foreign companies registered in India will no longer be prohibited from using drones, and no security checks are required before any registration or permits are issued. The government plans to open the so-called Digital Sky platform. Manufacturers will be able to use the platform during the certification process, from where they can access interactive maps of the airspace with green, yellow, and red areas./Draft Drone Rules 2021/

Digital Sky will also provide services as a user acquisition mandatory registration Unified platform for number and remote driving licenses. People need to check the service to determine if there are any restrictions before flying a drone in a certain location. The platform will be managed by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the Indian aviation regulatory agency. “The central government can publish a drone operation airspace map on the digital sky platform within 30 days from the date of notification of this rule, dividing the entire airspace of India into red, yellow, and green areas, with a horizontal resolution equal to or greater than 10 meters.” , Formulated the draft rules.

These areas are so-called geo-fences, and the use of drones is prohibited or restricted in certain places, such as near airports or sensitive military and VIP venues. The yellow area has been reduced from 45 kilometers to 12 kilometers.

Around the airport, the new rules state that flying up to 400 feet in the green zone and flying up to 200 feet in the area 8 to 12 kilometers away from the periphery of the airport do not require a flight permit. The “green zone” refers to the airspace from the ground to the vertical distance (AGL) 400 feet (120 meters) above the ground, which is not designated as a red or yellow zone for drone operations on the airspace map; the draft rule says, The airspace from the ground to the vertical distance of 200 feet (60 meters) AGL in an area 8 to 12 kilometers away from the operating airport. The rule added that the central government would allow drone operations only under special circumstances. To fly in the yellow zone, drone pilots need to obtain permission from the air traffic control authority./Draft Drone Rules 2021

“The airspace map for drone operations will be designed to be programmatically accessible through an interactive machine-readable application programming interface (API) so that drone pilots can draw their proposed flight plan and easily identify the area in it to evaluate them Do you need to apply for pre-approval,” he said.

This will allow autonomous drones to use geofence details to automatically update where they can and cannot fly. Some companies build fail-safe fences on their products, usually assigning no-fly zones around airports and other sensitive locations. Discussions on the draft drone policy have been going on for more than two years. The policy document uploaded on Thursday stated that the integration of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into the National Airspace System (NAS) faces some technical and operational challenges.

 He added that the integration of UAS into the current air traffic management system requires additional onboard hardware. The policy goal is to enable more types of drone operation scenarios, improve the compliance of the drone industry, and ensure safety and security. Industry representatives welcomed the rules./Draft Drone Rules 2021/

 “Even after the recent drone incident in Jammu, the Ministry of Civil Aviation has decided to relax the drone policy, which shows that the government is promoting the use of drones and focusing on the development of anti-drone technology in response to the threat of rogue drones. We have taken a bold approach. We are grateful for the ministry’s initiative and we will continue to provide support to make India a global drone hub,” said Smit Shah, director of the Indian UAV Federation./Draft Drone Rules 2021/

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