India: DGCA Releases Draft Regulations On The Civil Use Of Drones

Last Updated: 3 November 2017
Article by Vikrant Rana and Bijit Das

Introduction

Drones go by many names, such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and unmanned aircraft systems (UASs). Yet no matter what the name is, drones are basically aircrafts controlled remotely which do not involve an onboard human pilot. Different kinds of techniques could be used to control UAVs' flights, such as onboard computers which make the control fully autonomous, through the use of a remote control by ground operators, or by operators in another vehicle on land or in the air.

The term unmanned aircraft system (hereinafter referred to as the 'UAS') was adopted by the United States Department of Defense (DoD) and the United States Federal Aviation Administration in 2005 according to their Unmanned Aircraft System Roadmap 2005–20301. It is broadly defined as, "powered, aerial vehicle that does not carry a human operator, uses aerodynamic forces to provide vehicle lift, can fly autonomously or be piloted remotely, can be expendable or recoverable, and can carry a lethal or nonlethal payload."

Previously, the use of drones were limited to the military. The first large scale use of drones was in 1959, when the U.S. Air Force, concerned about losing pilots over hostile territory, began planning for the use of unmanned aircraft. Since then, the commercial drone industry has undergone significant technological developments. There here have been efforts to regulate the use of UAS to ensure that safety measures are in place even as the industry is seeing an increase in the number of commercial drones being used for defense, agriculture, filming and weather monitoring among others.

In pursuance to the above, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (hereinafter referred to as the 'DGCA') on November 1, 2017, released a draft regulations stipulating the requirements for Operation of Civil Remotely Pilot Aircraft System. Previously, in India, DGCA had on October 7, 2014 released a public notice banning the use of UAS in the country. The notice for the first time recognized the menace of drones and acknowledged the underling safety and privacy issue in it. It conclude by stating that, till the time new regulations are issued, no non-governmental agency, organization, or an individual will launch a UAS in Indian Civil Airspace for any purpose whatsoever.

Further, on April 21, 2016, the DGCA released draft guidelines for obtaining Unique Identification Number and Operation of Civil Unmanned Aircraft System. The said notice defined for the first time, technical concepts such as UA2, RPS3, C2 link4. It acknowledged to a greater extent the potential for misuse of UAS, and further stated that while it will be advantageous to use UAS for damage assessment of property and life in areas affected with natural calamities, surveys, critical infrastructure monitoring including power facilities, ports and pipelines, an unchecked use of UAS and proliferation of it into the recreational field is likely to be misused. It further laid down the guidelines for obtaining UIN & operation of civil UAS. All the UAS operators were required to adhere to these guidelines in the interest of flight safety.

DGCA will register all civil Unmanned Aircraft and issue a Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit (hereinafter referred to as the UAOP) on a case to case basis.

The salient features of the Draft Regulations are –

1. Categories of RPA

Remote Pilot Aircraft (hereinafter referred to as the 'RPA') for civil purposes are classified into five categories –

  • Nano (Less than or equal to 250 grams)
  • Micro (Greater than 250 grams and less than or equal to 2 kg.)
  • Mini (Greater than 2 kg and less than or equal to 25 kg.)
  • Small (Greater than 25 kg and less than or equal to 150 kg)
  • Large (Greater than 150 kg)

2. Applicability

The guidelines are applicable to all kinds of civil Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems which are remotely piloted from a Remote Pilot Station.

3. Application Process

Applications by the DGCA will be processed on a case-to-case basis and the DGCA upon receipt of the application along with the necessary annexures will examine the request for issuance of UIN, UAOP and/or import clearance.

4. Issuance of UIN by DGCA

It lays down the eligibility of a person who can apply for the license of a civil RPA. The said person must be –

  • a citizen of India
  • Associated with the Central/State Government, or any company/corporation owned or controlled by the Central/State Government.
  • A corporate body –

    • Which is registered in India
    • Having its principal place of business in India
    • Having its chairman and at least two-thirds of its directors as citizens of India
    • Whose substantial ownership and effective control is vested in Indian nationals.
    • Which is registered elsewhere other than India, provided that such company or corporation has leased the RPAs to any organization.

It further lays down the list of documents to be submitted with DGCA for issuance of UIN.

5. Issuance of Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit (UAOP)

All civil RPA operations for any purpose whatsoever to require UAOP from the DGCA.

In order to require the UAOP, all civil RPA operators shall submit a duly filled application at least seven (7) days prior to actual conduct of operations along with the requisite fees as per Rule 15A of Aircraft Rules, 1937 and the following supporting documents:

  • Permission from Air Traffic Service (hereinafter referred to as "ATS") provider (civil/defense)
  • Permission of the land/property owner (area used for take-off and landing of RPA)
  • Details of remote pilot(s) and training records
  • Insurance details (as applicable)
  • Security programme as approved by BCAS.
  • The following entities are exempted from requiring the UAOP:
  • Nano RPA operating below 50 ft above ground level in uncontrolled airspace & indoor operations.
  • Micro RPA operating below 200 ft above ground level in uncontrolled airspace and clear of prohibited; restricted and danger areas; Temporary Segregated Areas (TSA) and Temporary Reserved Areas (TRA) as notified by AAI in the Aeronautical Information Publication. However, the user shall intimate the local police authorities before conduct of actual operations.
  • RPA owned and operated by Government security agencies. However, the agency shall intimate local police authorities and concerned ATS Units before conduct of actual operations.

The UAOP shall be non-transferrable and valid for a term of five (5) years from the date of its issuance, and further can be renewed with subject to fresh security clearance from Ministry of Home Affairs.

6. Security/ Safety/ Maintenance

The Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (hereinafter referred to as the 'RPAS') owner/ operator needs to comply with few standards as follows:

  • To ensure all security measures are in place as enumerated in the Security Programme, as approved by Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (hereinafter referred to as 'BCAS').
  • To be responsible for the safe custody, security and access control of the RPAS.
  • To report immediately to the local police/ administration, BCAS and DGCA in case of loss of RPAS.
  • The ground control station (while in use or in store) shall be secured from sabotage or unlawful interference.
  • The owner/operator of all RPA except Nano RPA shall be responsible for notifying any incident/accident involving RPA to the Director of Air Safety, DGCA.
  • To not further sell or dispose-off in any way to any person or firm without prior approval from DGCA.
  • To intimate DGCA for cancellation of UIN, in case the RPA is damaged and cannot be restored to original condition.
  • To carry out maintenance and repair of RPAS in accordance with the manufacturer's approved procedures.
  • To carry out maintenance of the ground control equipment in accordance with the manufacturer's recommended inspection and overhaul interval.
  • To not fly the RPA unless he/she is reasonably satisfied that all the control systems including the radio link of the RPA are in good working condition before the flight.
  • To maintain records of each flight as per the format given by DGCA, and make such records available to DGCA on demand.

7. Training Requirements for Remote Pilots

All Remote Pilots shall have attained 18 years of age with thorough ground training equivalent to that undertaken by aircrew of manned aircraft and shall undergo thorough practical training on the control of a RPA in flight, which may consist of a proportion of simulated flight training.

A Remote Pilot shall be well aware of the no-fly zones, knowledge of radio frequencies, ATC procedures and shall have basic knowledge of multi rotors and fixed wing operations.

8. Equipment Requirements

All the RPA except Nano shall be equipped with the following equipments:

  • Identification Plate
  • GPS for horizontal and vertical position fixing
  • Autonomous Flight Termination System or Return to Home (RH) option
  • Flashing anti-collision strobe lights
  • RFID and GSM SIM Card Slot for APP based tracking

The RPA intending to operate at or above 200 ft above ground level shall carry the following equipment in addition to those specified above:

  • SSR transponder (Mode 'C' or 'S') or Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS-B) OUT equipment
  • Barometric equipment with capability for remote subscale setting
  • Geo Fencing capability
  • Detect and Avoid capability

Remote pilot shall be equipped with communication facilities to establish and maintain continuous two-way communication with the concerned ATS unit. The GPS tracking system of the RPA shall be self-powered and tamper/spoofing proof to ensure data relay even in the event of RPA accident.

Airports Authority of India and Indian Air Force shall monitor RPA movements in the country.

9. What are the requirements for Operation of RPA?

  • Irrespective of the weight category all RPA operations are restricted to day operation and within Visual Line of Sight only. RPA shall be operated only when the following meteorological conditions exists

    • During daylight (between sunrise and sunset).  In Visual Meteorological Conditions (VMC) with a minimum ground visibility of 5 km and cloud ceiling not less than 450 m (1500 ft).
    • Surface winds of not more than 10 knots.
    • No precipitation (rain, hail or snow) or thunderstorm activities.
  • Irrespective of height, operation of RPA in Mini and above category shall be conducted only after filing flight plan and obtaining following clearances:

    • Nearest ATC Unit
    • Air Defence Clearance (ADC)
    • Flight Information Centre (FIC)
  • The take-off and landing areas should be properly segregated from public access. Designated safe areas should be established by the RPA Operator for emergency RPA holding and flight terminations.
  • RPA are not allowed to fly over clearly defined areas which will be categorized as "No Drone Zone". No RPA shall be flown:

    • Within an area of 5 km (2.7 NM) from Aerodrome Reference Point of operational airports.
    • Above the Obstacle Limitation Surfaces (OLS) of an operational aerodrome specified in Ministry of Civil Aviation (Height Restrictions for Safeguarding of Aircraft Operations) Rules, 2015
    • Without prior approval, over densely populated areas or over or near an area affecting public safety or where emergency operations are underway
    • Beyond 500 m (horizontal) into sea from coast line provided the location of ground station is on fixed platform over land
    • Within 5 km radius from Vijay Chowk in Delhi
    • Within 500 m from perimeter of strategic locations notified by Ministry of Home Affairs
    • Within 500 m from perimeter of military installations/ facilities
    • From a mobile platform such as a moving vehicle, ship or aircraft
    • Over eco-sensitive zones around National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries notified by Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change without prior permission

Legal Obligations

UIN and/or UAOP issued by DGCA shall not:

  • Confer on RPAS operator any right against the owner or resident of any land or building or over which the operations are conducted, or prejudice in any way the rights and remedies which a person may have in respect of any injury to persons or damage to property caused directly or indirectly by the RPA
  • Absolve the operator/remote pilot from compliance with any other regulatory requirement, which may exist under the State or local law.

All civil RPAS operators shall have insurance with the liability that they might incur for any damage to third party resulting from the accident/incident. Breach, if any noticed by any Govt. authority shall be intimated to the concerned state authority for taking necessary action including imposition of penalties under the applicable statutory provisions.

Conclusion

The draft norms which has been put up for public consultations for a month, is a welcome move by the DGCA, and it will pave the way for having a consolidated law relating to future use of drone technologies. India is not the first country to do so, as previously many developed nations have put in place their own domestic legislation related to it.

Sl no. Countries Regulation in place
1. Ireland The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) requires all UAVs over 1 kg must be registered with UAVs weighing 4 kg or more requiring a license to be issued by the IAA.5
2. Netherlands As of May 2016, the Dutch police is testing trained bald eagles to intercept offending UAVs6.
3. Canada In 2016 Transport Canada proposed the implementation of new regulations that would require all UAVs over 250 grams to be registered and insured and that operators would be required to be a minimum age and pass an exam in order to get a license.7
4. South Africa In April 2014, the South African Civil Aviation Authority announced that it would clamp down on the illegal flying of UAVs in South African airspace. "Hobby drones" with a weight of less than 7 kg at altitudes up to 500m with restricted visual line-of-sight below the height of the highest obstacle within 300m of the UAV are allowed.8
5. Italy The ENAC (Ente Nazionale per l'Aviazione Civile), that is, the Italian Civil Aviation Authority for technical regulation, certification, supervision and control in the field of civil aviation, issued on May 31, 2016 a very detailed regulation for all UAV, determining which types of vehicles can be used, where, for which purposes, and who can control them.9
6. United States
  • From 21 December 2015 all hobby type UAV's between 250 grams and 25 kilograms needed to be registered with FAA no later than 19 February 2016.10 The use of UAVs for law-enforcement purposes is regulated at a state level.
7. United Kingdom As of 2015, UAV's under 300g are not controlled by the CAA guidances that include maintaining 50 meters from person, animal or property. The UAV must still not go higher than 400ft with a single pilot or 1000ft with a pilot and spotter, however as with UAV's above 300g, if within 400ft of a structure, you are allowed to go 400ft higher than the structure.11

Footnotes

1 https://fas.org/irp/program/collect/uav_roadmap2005.pdf

2 UA stands for Unmanned Aircraft

3 RPS stands for Remote Pilot Station

4 C2 link stands for Command and Control Link

5 http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/1kg-drones-must-be-registered-under-new-laws-372135.html

6 http://www.cbsnews.com/news/dutch-police-use-eagles-to-take-down-illegal-drones/

7 http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/transport-canada-drone-regulations-1.3810123

8 http://www.news24.com/Travel/Flights/CAA-to-crackdown-on-illegal-drone-flights-20140402

9 https://www.enac.gov.it/La_Normativa/Normativa_Enac/Regolamenti/Regolamenti_ad_hoc/info-122671512.html

 10 http://www.natlawreview.com/article/drone-your-holiday-stocking-must-now-be-registered-faa

11 https://publicapps.caa.co.uk/docs/33/CAP%20722%20Sixth%20Edition%20March%202015.pdf

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
Vikrant Rana
Bijit Das
 
In association with
Related Topics
 
Related Articles
 
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions