Govt nod may clear skies for civil use of drones

Draft rules have been framed on the proposals announced by the US FAA

Written by Sharmistha Mukherjee | New Delhi | Published: May 10, 2015 3:01 am
Recently, drones were used in riot-hit Trilokpuri (above) to carry out surveillance for security reasons. archive Drones are required to be flown at least 5 km away from airports. Operators can fly UAVs only during day time.

In what would make civil use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) a reality in India, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has forwarded for approval draft norms to the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA), based on regulations unveiled in Australia and the United States. It, however, remains to be seen whether India approves commercial operation of drones for deliveries by e-tailers as both United States and Australia currently require UAVs to be launched within line-of-sight of operators.

A senior official in the DGCA said, “We have readied a draft policy for operation of drones. It specifies the norms; the precautions and the clearances that an operator is required to take to launch UAVs. The ministry will now consult with MHA (Ministry of Home Affairs), DoT (Department of Telecommunications) and MoD (Ministry of Defence). The final policy would be notified shortly.”

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The draft rules have been framed based on proposals which have been announced by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the United States and by the Civil Aviation and Safety Authority (CASA) in Australia.

FAA’s proposed rules permit certified operators to fly UAVs weighing up to 55 pounds during day time. Commercial drones will be permitted to fly at a speed of up to 100 miles per hour and at heights of up to 500 feet.

Operators will have to renew their permit every two years. But in a hitch for e-tailers like Amazon planning delivery services, operators are required to keep the drones in their line-of-sight. The regulator is now reportedly looking a studying beyond-sight drone flights to unlock the potential of UAVs for commercial operations.

In Australia too, regulations are being amended to monitor the use of drones. CASA has said that UAVs need to be kept 30 metres away from other people and should not be flown over crowded areas such as in beaches or sporting events.

Drones are required to be flown at least 5 km away from airports. Operators can fly UAVs only during day time.

“The benefits of deploying drones for civilian applications are many. The regulations would help in defining flight paths, height and areas of operation so that UAVs do not pose a hazard in manned air traffic operations”, added the official.

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