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At present, only government organizations and companies are permitted to fly drones in India. Photo: Aniruddha Chowdhury/Mint
At present, only government organizations and companies are permitted to fly drones in India. Photo: Aniruddha Chowdhury/Mint

DGCA may soon issue drone flying licence for civilians

DGCA plans to start issuing remote pilot licences, which are much like the commercial pilot's licences, for flying drones in India

New Delhi: Aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) may soon issue licences for flying both small and large drones for civilian use, a senior DGCA official said on Thursday.

At present only government organizations and companies are permitted to fly drones.

The regulator plans to start issuing remote pilot licences (RPL), which are much like the commercial pilot’s licences (CPL) or private pilot’s licences (PPL) it issues to pilots, the DGCA official said, declining to be identified.

“China and US require people operating drones beyond 7kg and 25kg, respectively, to get an RPL. Our weight limit for getting the same will be more stringent," the official said.

The regulations are likely to be made public in the next few weeks, he added.

Earlier this week, flight operations were suspended for more than half-an-hour at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport after a “drone-like object" was spotted in one of the runways.

The object was spotted by an AirAsia pilot at around 7.09pm.

Following this incident, several flights were diverted as operations at the airport were suspended for about 40 minutes.

An AirAsia spokeswoman said in a statement that the airline had informed the authorities about the incident.

Delhi’s international airport, which has three runways, is the busiest in the country and handles around 1,200 flights a day.

The DGCA official also said Pratt and Whitney had told India it would provide replacement engines for the grounded A320neo aircraft of IndiGo and GoAir airlines by the end of September.

Eight IndiGo planes and two GoAir jets have been grounded because the carriers could not get replacement engines from Pratt and Whitney, owned by United Technologies.

The official said the government had told the engine maker to prioritize the deliveries to IndiGo, India’s biggest airline, and GoAir.

“We are working hand-in-hand with them (IndiGo, GoAir) on a daily basis to address their in-service fleet issues. Since March, new engines and overhauled engines have incorporated improvements that have enhanced the engine’s durability. We have increased spare engine deliveries as well as overhauled engine returns with this improved design, which should help to stabilize the current fleet," Pratt and Whitney said in a statement on 21 August.

Reuters contributed to the story.

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