Government launches Digital Sky Platform for drone registration

Dec 3, 2018 13:36 IST
Aviation Ministry permits flying of nano drones in India

The Union Government’s Civil Aviation Regulations (CAR) to enable safe flying of Remotely Piloted Aerial Systems (RPAS) popularly referred to as drones came into effect on December 1, 2018. The Government had announced the release of the regulations in August 2018.

With the announcement, while nano drones can start flying in the country with immediate effect, for drones of micro size and above categories, the operators would be required to register on the Digital Sky portal.

Speaking on the occasion, Minister for Civil Aviation Suresh Prabhu said that drones are an industry of the future and it is a matter of great pride for the country that it is now at the cutting edge of the rulemaking in this industry.

The Minister further said that India will be taking lead in this sector and will be working with countries around the world to develop common, scalable standards. He said that the industry has a large potential for Make in India and also to export drones and services from India.

Key Highlights

The regulations released by India to enable safe flying of RPAS detail the obligations of operators, remote pilots, users and manufacturers and original equipment manufacturers for safe operations of the drones and co-operative use of airspace.

To get permissions to fly, RPAS operators or remote pilots will have to file a flight plan.

Under the new regulations, the Aviation Ministry has divided the airspace into three zones, the locations of which will be announced soon. The zones are as follows:

Green Zone (automatic permission)
: Flying in this zone will require intimation of the time and location of the flights through the digital sky portal the app.

Yellow Zone (controlled airspace): Permissions will be required for flying in this zone

Red Zone (flying not permitted): No drones will be allowed to operate in this zone.

The permissions to operate or fly the drones, if granted, will be available digitally on the portal.

Digital Sky Platform

The Digital Sky Platform is the first-of-its-kind national unmanned traffic management (UTM) platform that implements “no permission, no takeoff” (NPNT).

The platform has been built to evolve with the evolving needs of this rapidly changing industry. Its users will be required to do a one-time registration of their drones, pilots and owners.

For every flight (except for the nano category), the users will be required to ask for permission to fly on a mobile app and an automated process will permit or deny the request instantly.

To prevent unauthorised flights and to ensure public safety, any drone without a digital permit to fly will simply not be able to take off.

  Government’s regulations for flying of drones come into effect

The UTM operates as a traffic regulator in the drone airspace and coordinates closely with the defence and civilian air traffic controllers (ATCs) to ensure that drones remain on the approved flight paths.

In the coming months, new features will be developed to ease the process of flying for users and provide oversight to security agencies.

Furthermore, it is envisioned that in the future Digital Sky Service Providers (DSPs) will be extending the functionality of the platform through Application Program Interfaces (APIs).

The payments for Unmanned Aerial Operator’s Permit (UAOP) and Unique Identification Numbers (UIN) will be accepted through the Bharat Kosh (bharatkosh.gov.in) portal.

RPAS, popularly referred to as drones, is a technology platform with wide-ranging applications.

Other Details

The existing drone operators will be required to contact their manufacturers for NPNT-compliant firmware upgrades and Equipment Type Approvals (ETA) from Wireless Planning Coordination (WPC) wing of DoT. The potential drone owners will be required to buy NPNT-compliant RPAS.

The DGCA has released a list of frequently asked questions as well as a list of do’s and don’ts for safe flying.  

Besides, a detailed RPAS guidance manual was released in November and it is available on the DGCA website.

The manual includes technical Specifications for NPNT compliance that will help manufacturers roll out relevant upgrades to their RPAS.

With the permission of flying drones being given, the import of drones will also be permitted. A point of contact in the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) will be available on the Digital Sky Website.

  Government’s regulations for flying of drones come into effect

Impact

Drones are a frontier technology that have the potential to boost India’s economic growth.

The technology can greatly benefit the farmers and infrastructure entities such as railways, roads, ports, mines and factories, sectors like insurance, photography and entertainment.

The Minister for Civil Aviation has constituted a task-force on the recommendation of Drone Policy 2.0 under the chairmanship of the Minister of State. The task-force is expected to release its final report by the end of 2018.

The Drone 2.0 framework for RPAS is expected to include regulatory architecture for autonomous flying, delivery through drones and beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) flights.

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