GoI releases draft Drone Rules-2021 for public consultation weeks after drone attack in Jammu

New Delhi: The ministry of civil aviation (MoCA), Government of India on Thursday released Draft Drone Rules, 2021 for public consultation, while seeking public comments on the draft by August 05.

In a public notice, the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) said that it 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,” it reads.

The notice reads that the new rules have approvals, unique authorization number, unique prototype identification number, certificate of conformance, certificate of maintenance, import clearance, acceptance of existing drones, operator permits, authorization of R&D organization, student remote pilot license, remote pilot instructor authorization, drone port authorization, etc have been abolished

“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,” it reads.

It reads that the digital sky platform shall be developed as a business-friendly single-window online system and there will be a 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. The yellow zone reduced from 45 km to 12 km from the airport perimeter. No flight permission required up to 400 feet in green zones and up to 200 feet in the area between 8 and 12 km from the airport perimeter. No pilot license required for micro drones (for non-commercial use), nano drone and for R&D organizations.”

It reads that no restriction on drone operations by foreign-owned companies registered in India.

“Import of drones and drone components be regulated by DGFT. No security clearance is required before any registration or license issuance. No requirement of a certificate of airworthiness, unique identification number, prior permission, and remote pilot license for R&D entities. Coverage of drones under Drone Rules, 2021 increased from 300 kg to 500 kg. This will cover drone taxis also.”

It further reads that all drone training and testing to be carried out by an authorized drone school. “DGCA shall prescribe training requirements, oversee drone schools and provide pilot licenses online. Issuance of Certificate of Airworthiness delegated to Quality Council of India and certification entities authorized by it. The manufacturer may generate their drone’s unique identification number on the digital sky platform through 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 are required unless there is a significant departure from the prescribed procedures.”

It reads that the maximum penalty under Drone Rules, 2021, have been 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,” it reads.

The order came weeks after two drones air-dropped payloads at the Jammu Air Force Station of which one pierced through the slab and the second one exploded in the premises of the strategic installation, and minor injuries to two Air Force personnel.

In this regard, both the NSG (National Security Guard) and the Army are doing trial runs and tests of equipment to be used to counter drone threats. Advanced global anti-drone systems, including Israel’s laser technology-based solutions, are going to be tested and installed at vital installations in Jammu and Kashmir.

While some of the anti-drone systems, currently available with various agencies like NSG and NTRO, are already being installed and tested at locations like the Jammu airport as well as some select border stretches, the larger plan is to extend the deployment of anti-drone technologies designed to detect, intercept and inactivate drones within a possible 5-6 km range, to vital or key military installations within JK, apart from using them to secure the border with Pakistan.

“This will help not only tackle drones being sent with payloads like the one used in the recent attack on Jammu IAF base, but also those detected so far carrying weapons, narcotics, and even ready-to-use IEDs,” reports said quoting sources.

Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria had also said that strikes were an act of “terror” that was aimed at “targeting key military assets”.

He said that an Indian Air Force is in the process of bolstering its capabilities to deal with such challenges, news agency PTI reported.

The Chief of Air Staff said the IAF has carried out a detailed analysis in terms of implications of drones and other similar capabilities falling into the hands of non-state actors, and taking a series of measures to counter them.

“What happened at Jammu was essentially a terrorist act which attempted to target our assets there. The attempt failed of course. The assets were not damaged. Two explosives were used,” the Chief said.

The Chief of Air Staff said a detailed investigation into the attacks was underway and that all sets of measures would be on the table based on the findings of the probe.

“We have gone over the subject in terms of the implications of this kind of capabilities in the hands of non-state actors and the kind of effect the armed drone capabilities would have in future conflicts,” he had said.


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