New Delhi (Sputnik) — India's civil aviation ministry has approved the country's first-ever remotely piloted aircraft policy, paving way for the use of the drone for wide-ranging applications from photography to agriculture, and from infrastructure asset maintenance to insurance, which until now was illegal due to the absence of any guidelines.
The policy, which will be effective from December 1st of this year has put in place a number of restrictions. Users will be required to register their drones once; additionally pilots and owners will require registration via the ‘Digital Sky Platform.' Following this, the user will have to obtain prior permission for every single flight, except if the user has a drone belonging to the nano category (250 grams or less). Drones have been broadly categorized on the basis of weight, namely nano, micro, small, medium and large.
"The Digital Sky Platform is the first-of-its-kind national unmanned traffic management (UTM) platform that implements 'no permission, no takeoff' (NPNT)," a government statement read.
Moreover, high-security zones specified by the Government will remain protected from drones and violators will be charged under provisions of the Indian penal code.
"To prevent unauthorized flights and to ensure public safety, any drone without a digital permit to fly will simply not be able to take off. The UTM operates as a traffic regulator in the drone airspace and coordinates closely with the defense and civilian air traffic controllers (ATCs) to ensure that drones remain on the approved flight paths," the ministry said.
Meanwhile, following global norms, the government has restricted the use of drones for the delivery of goods and food items, which may hinder their commercial usage. Jayant Sinha, minister of state for civil aviation, while announcing the policy, indicated that this was done in light of security concerns and said the government will be looking to liberalize the guidelines in future.
"We will form a task force on the usage of drones and continuously update the regulations in the future," Minister Sinha said.
The policy also regulates the sale and purchase of the drones.