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.