After the civil aviation ministry proposed rules regarding the use of drones around airports, users have put forward their apprehensions with the policy. They say they are confused about the way distance would be classified around the airport and the permit required. The rules restrict operation of drones within a 5 km radius of the airport. Due permissions would also be needed when drones are being used over densely populated areas or near an area affecting public safety or where emergency operations are underway.
According to the draft rules, the regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), has classified drones under five categories based on weight. Nano drones, those weighing less than 250 gm and capable of flying not more than 50 feet, would not need any permission. But drones above the weight category of 2 kgs that cannot fly higher than 200ft will need police permission. The ones weighing more than 2 kgs would need permissions, including one from the police, along with a licence and a flight plan.
“Drones are mostly used by us to take video shots for an aerial view of the subject. Though not used all the time, it is required. The rules make the classification of how we would buy the drones very difficult,” Tanuj Jiwankar, who makes videos for weddings and others events said.
Barring nano drones, all other drones must be registered with the DGCA and acquire a Unique Identification Number. Drones that weigh over 2 kgs will require an air defence clearance. The remote pilot for any drone must be at least 18 years old and has to go through a prescribed training process.
“Capping the height distance of the drone is understandable as it becomes a necessary safety protocol. The authorities must clarify the process of requiring an identification number. More details could be provided by the local police if we need to use drones now,” Jiwankar added.
The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) claims that it has already taken necessary permission to use drones. “We have taken permission to use the drones. The revised rules have only come now,” said a senior MMRDA official. The MMRDA needed to use drones to conduct survey for the construction of Metro 2B. “The metro falls within a 5 km radius of Juhu airport. The line continues all the way till Bandra-Kurla Complex(BKC). The survey for drones is going on right now,” the official added.
A senior police officer from the domestic airport police station said: “The implementation of the proposed rules would be difficult. We are yet to see the detailed version of it and we can comment when we see it.” Officials from the forest department, who have used drones in the past on an experimental basis to monitor encroachments, claim that they do not use drones extensively. “We need to use drones for mangrove study around airport area. But we have not used it extensively in the past few days. We will put up our suggestions for comments once we have gone through the rules,” said N Vasudevan, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest.