This article on ‘Laws Regulating Drones in India‘ was written by Pooja Yadav, an intern at Legal Upanishad.
This article aims to explore and give a general overview of the drone operating laws in India. The Unmanned Aircraft System Rules, 2021 were partially replaced by new rules controlling the operation of drones that were first issued by the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Government of India, on August 26, 2021, and then revised by the Drone Amendment Rules, 2022 on February 15, 2022.
The Rules are thought to be much more lenient than their predecessors and cover a larger range of drone-related activities. They were created to support India’s goal of becoming a major drone hub by 2030.
Regulation on the use of Drones in India
In India, drones are used in a wide range of industries, including but not limited to agriculture, security, and surveillance, aerial photography, and videography, navigation, infrastructure solutions for roads and highways, including transportation management in densely populated urban areas construction support, telecom services, LiDAR in mining, watershed management, and monitoring emergency disaster situations.
One such emerging application of drone technology is the defense sector, which strongly suggests its use in armed conflict and tactical military operations in the future. Other applications for drones on the modern battlefield include data gathering and dive-bombing operations. Commercial drone testing for last-mile delivery of goods and services from companies to customers in the e-commerce, healthcare, retail, and logistics sectors is already underway in the consumer sector.
The Indian Finance Minister suggested in the 2022 budget that India should adopt drones as a service model, particularly in regard to the agriculture industry. Drones will also be used to carefully monitor and evaluate the health of the crops, and spray insecticides, herbicides, and fertilizers among other tasks. It is also noteworthy that continued efforts are being made to build training facilities courses and programmes to boost the pool of qualified workers in the sector who can use drone technology in agriculture.
Drone Ownership and use in India: What you should know
Regulations for the use of civil drones in India have been published by the Directorate General of Civil aviation. Here is a quick rundown of what you should know:
Licensing and Registration: All drones must be registered with the DGCA, and their operators require a license in order to use them. The DGCA “Digital Sky Platform”, which offers a single window internet platform for drone registrations and permissions pertaining to drone operations, is where registrations can be made.
Operator Requirements: Operators must be above 18, have finished a training programme from a facility that has received DGCA approval, and pass a written test. The license for operating drones is good for ten years after it is issued.
Use Restrictions: There are limitations on where and when drone owners may fly their aircraft. Operators cannot for instance fly close to airports or in densely populated regions.
Further, in detail, these guidelines are discussed in detail.
Is registration and license for a drone needed in India?
So yes, in India you must get a license to fly a drone and be registered with the DGCA. You must be at least 18 years old have successfully completed the 10th grade and have finished a training programme from a DGCA-approved institution. Additionally, you must succeed on a written test. If you pass the test, the DGCA will send you a remote pilot certificate via the Digital Sky Platform within 15 days. The certificate has a 10-year validity period once it is issued.
The new regulations exempt non – commercial micro drones and nano drones which weigh less than 250 grams from the need for a certificate weighing less than 2 KG.
What kind of limitations are placed on drone use in India?
In comparison to the former rules, the 2021 Rules greatly simplify drone ownership and use. In order to fully comply with all applicable regulations, drone operators must be aware of the limits that are in place, with a focus on permission, permits, usage, and compliance.
Zones: Green, Yellow, and Red
For the convenience of drone operators and other stakeholders, the Indian Ministry of Civil Aviation has also implemented an interactive airspace map on the Digital Sky Platform. Green, Yellow and Red zones are delineated on the map using colour. Drones can fly in green zones without special permission whereas yellow zones are controlled airspace and require authorization. Flying is severely prohibited in red zones. Red zones are limited owing to the potential of accidents or for reasons of national security and include places like military sites or nuclear power facilities.
Limitation on elevation and speed
Operators shouldn’t fly Nano and micro drones more than 50 feet above the ground or faster than 25 m/s.
No Take – Off Without Permission
In India, authorization is required prior to any drone operation. A mobile app (part of the digital sky platform) that is accessible to drone operators shows permission and automatically accepts or denies it. Drones must meet certain requirements in order to be used in India, including being unable to take off without authorization. Drone operators must make sure they abide by all of these limitations. If this isn’t done, there could be repercussions, including a fine of up to INR 1,000,000.
India forbids the import of drones
India has prohibited the import of any drones as well as the parts that can be put together to make drones as of February 2022. By 2030, the goal is for the domestic drone manufacturing sector to become a major worldwide drone hub. This import embargo has some exceptions for the defense sector, security needs, and technology research development.
The Indian government’s decision to forbid the import of drones is supported by a two-pronged strategy, first, it is believed that the development of domestic technology will increase demand for drone-related goods and services in local markets and open up employment prospects. Second to ensure drone technology is regulated and to prevent misuse within Indian territory that could result in threats to the defense industry, including information leaks.
All throughout the world, drones are becoming more and more popular for both leisure and business uses. Drone operation in India has never been easier thanks to the publishing of the Drone Rules, 2021, and the Drone Amendment Rules, 2021. A drone import restriction is intended to encourage the Indian manufacturing sector to quickly adopt new technologies in order to meet the demands of the Indian market along with the notification of these Rules.
New laws and guidelines support the ambitious objective of the Indian government to establish India as a hub for drones by 2030. Before using a drone in India, it is essential to be aware of these laws and guidelines.
- Eshwars, Drone Regulations in India, Lexology, available at: https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=21919d28-8dec-421c-a722-a4259be77991#:~:text=To%20operate%20a%20drone%20in,from%20a%20DGCA-approved%20institution
- Vanya Verma, Drone laws in India, iPleaders Blog, 27 March 2022, available at: https://blog.ipleaders.in/drone-laws-in-india/
- Drone Laws in India, Drone Laws, available at: https://drone-laws.com/drone-laws-in-india/