Civil aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) announced Monday a licensing regime for the commercial use of remotely piloted aircraft systems, that is, drones. Mint takes a look at the implications of the policy.

Why do businesses need drones?

Drones offer low-cost, safe and quick aerial surveys for data collection. This is useful for industries such as power, mining, realty, oil and gas exploration, railways and highways. With big data and tools such as 3D modelling, businesses can simulate and analyse varied situations. Drones can inspect tall structures and offshore rigs. Relief, rescue work and policing can become more effective by using them. They can be used for delivery of fertilizers in fields and to ship goods, a use e-commerce firms may be interested in.

What does India’s drone policy allow?

Initially, drones will be permitted to operate only within sight and during the day, with a maximum altitude of 400 feet. Small drones—those in the nano category, weighing less than or equal to 250 gm and operating below 50 feet, as well as those in the micro category, weighing between 250 gm and 2 kg and operating below 200 feet—do not need registration. Drones won’t be permitted in certain no-fly zones such as airports, state secretariat complexes and military installations. The policy takes effect from 1 December.

Is there anything to worry about drones?

Large-scale use of drones could give rise to concerns relating to privacy and security that policymakers may need to address.

Will the use of drones catch on quickly?

As the government regulation does not allow drones that require registration to be operated out of sight, their adoption for commercial use may be initially limited. However, the government has promised to look into this aspect, while expanding the scope of regulations in the future. A committee, led by minister of state for civil aviation Jayant Sinha, will to work on a second-generation licensing policy for operating drones.

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Is there opportunity for local production of drones?

Setting up a legal framework for commercial use of drones could help in developing the drones market and encourage investments for local production. According to an estimate by EY and industry chamber Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the adoption of drones is increasing in India and the projected market size is $885.7 million by 2021.

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