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Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

DGCA releases draft guidelines for unmanned flying devices

The proposed guidelines state that drone users will have to secure permit and a unique identification number for their operations

New Delhi: In its efforts to regulate operations of unmanned flying devices like drones, which are increasingly posing challenge to regulators and personnel manning airspace, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has come out with draft guidelines for civil use of such machines.

According to the proposed guidelines, comments on which have been invited by 21 May, drone users will have to secure permit and a unique identification number for their operations.

“Civilian use of UAS (unmanned aircraft system) includes damage assessment of property and life in areas affected with natural calamities, surveys; critical infrastructure monitoring, among others... UA (unmanned aircraft) operations present problems to the regulator in terms of ensuring safety of other users of airspace and persons on the ground," the DGCA said.

However, in view of technological advancements in UAS over the years and their increased civil applications, it has become necessary to develop guidance material to regulate this activity, it said.

“This circular lays down guidelines for obtaining UIN and operation of civil UAS... DGCA will register all civil unmanned aircraft and issue a UA operator permit (UAOP) on case-to-case basis," as per the draft guidelines.

As of now, the aircraft rules do not cover use of drones as well as their sale and purchase. The DGCA in October 2014 restricted the use of drones and unmanned aircraft system by civilians.

Significantly, global airlines body IATA director general and chief executive officer Tony Tyler had last week said there was huge safety and operational challenges with respect to drones.

“Development of drones is very exciting in many ways, new forms of aviation and that has a lot going for it. But clearly drone operations must be made to operate in a safe manner, that’s very important. It’s important that the right regulations are drawn up to control the use of those drones," Tyler had said.

The aviation regulator has proposed the UIN to be granted to an Indian citizen or a company whose chairperson and two-thirds of its directors are Indian citizens.

According to the draft guidelines, UA operations at or above 200 feet AGL (above ground level) in uncontrolled airspace will require permit from DGCA. Also, operation of civil UA in controlled airspace is restricted under the proposed norms.

However, according to the guidelines, civil UA operations below 200 ft AGL in uncontrolled airspace will not require a UAOP.

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