In just four months a new drone policy in India passed by the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) will go into effect. Currently, permission is required to operate an unmanned aircraft in India and punishments including jail time are given out to those who fly without consent. As of December 1st, 2018, India’s drone laws will resemble those that pilots must follow in the United States. Here is everything you need to know about what flying a drone in India will be like once these policies go into effect.

Drones take to the skies

This new set of rules apply to drones of all kinds. As acknowledged by the DGCA as remotely piloted aircraft, these are defined as an unmanned aircraft that is piloted from a remote pilot station. As stated directly in the policy:

“The remotely piloted aircraft, its associated remote pilot station(s), command and control links and any other components forms a Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS),”

In this policy, drones are also broken down into a class by weight:

  • Nano – Less than or equal to 250 grams.
  • Micro – From 250 grams to 2kg.
  • Small – From 2kg to 25kg.
  • Medium – From 25kg to 150kg.
  • Large – Greater than 150kg.

Each drone no matter which class they fall under requires a Unique Identification Number (UIN), Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit (UAOP) and must adhere to other operational requirements. The DGCA is to issue these permits to drone pilots within seven business days although the following exceptions do apply.

  • Nano drones flying below 50 feet in uncontrolled airspace.
  • Micro drones flying below 200 feet in uncontrolled airspace. Must inform local police 24 hours before flight.
  • Drones used by NTRO, ARC and Central Intelligence Agencies but after alerting local police.

Pilots looking to fly drones must also be 18 years of age, must have passed 10th exam in English, and must have taken a training course. These courses must have been approved by the DGCA.

Rules and restrictions

All drone pilots flying in India have certain rules they must follow during operation, here is a list to go over a quick rundown:

  • Flight may only be conducted during the daytime
  • The operator must maintain visual line of sight
  • A remote pilot may only operate one drone at a time
  • Payloads may not consist of humans, animals, or any other hazardous objects
  • Drones may not operate within 5km of the perimeters of the airports in Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Bengaluru and Hyderabad and within 3km from the perimeter of any other airport.
  • Drones may not operate within 25km of the international border
  • Drone operations must stay within 500m over the sea
  • Drones may not operate within 3km of military bases
  • The operator must be stationary, not in a car, aircraft, or boat
  • National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries are off-limits, although permission to fly may be granted

With drone operations at a stagnant level in India, it is nice to finally see the DGCA empowering citizens to use drones for frequently for recreational and business use.

What do you think about India’s new drone laws? Let us know in the comments below.

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Photo credit: Geospatial World

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