Flying Drones to Become Legal in India, but with Strict Regulations

Flying drones in India was prohibited since many years but this is about to change as regulatory norms have been introduced by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation. A regulations draft was made public on October 30th and it will be open to public comments for 30 days after which the guidelines will be finalized. Thus, flying drones won’t be illegal in India anymore, instead it will be regulated.

Drones are garnering a lot of interest lately for both professional as well as personal use cases. In other countries where drones are legal, they are used for various purposes. Functions like monitoring crop production, delivering packages, aerial mapping, etc. are conveniently carried out through a drone which would otherwise take a lot of human effort. Also, many are inclined towards flying drones for purposes such as cinematography, photography among others.

The new regulations have been framed by classifying drones with respect to their weight. Below is the classification table:

Drones that fall in the Nano category (weight less than 250gm) can be used without any registration. All the other drones must be registered with DGCA and get a Unique Identification number. Furthermore, for flying drones that weigh more than 2kg (Mini and above), you will have to get an air defence clearance. Also, those who intend to fly drones must be at least 18 years old and go through a prescribed training process as well.

As expected, some areas are prohibited for flying drones considering safety reasons. Flying drones won’t be allowed within 5km radius of any operational airport. They will also be restricted within 50km radius of an international border. Along with it, the 5 km region surrounding New Delhi’s Vijay Chowk is barred from drone flying too. This area encompasses important buildings such as the Parliament and Rashtrapati Bhawan. Furthermore, drones aren’t allowed in densely populated places, areas where public safety is compromised and over national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.

Until now, it required special permission from authorities if you wanted to fly a drone in India, be it for any purpose. With the new norms in place, users don’t need a special permit but will have to adhere to the regulations or face punishment.

India’s civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said, “Drones have a lot of capability. Hence, it was generating a lot of interest. Not having any regulations amounted to a complete ban. So, we decided to go ahead and develop a regulatory framework.”

This is a welcome change and would open up multiple avenues for people wanting to use these unmanned flying machines. The regulatory norms shall ensure safety for both, vehicles in the air as well as people on the ground. It will definitely benefit many industries as well. For instance, drones can reduce surveying time in construction sites by 98%, which is a huge deal. Even e-commerce sites can benefit by using drones to deliver packages. Amazon was the first to try this concept in the US where it’s legal to fly drones. They have also filed a patent which covers delivery of packages through drones in India. Even Flipkart has approached the government to let them try the concept in 2015.

Although there are restrictions, at least it will be legal to fly drones in India. What do you think about this new drone policy? Let us know in the comments below.

Aditya Mohanty

Previously co-founded a startup called WordKrowd, an online literature platform, which explains his love for writing and reading. Thinks about startups and technologies all day long, thus got himself to Pricebaba for a stint in writing. Stories, both fictional and real excite him. Other close recipients of love from him include good movies and good food.