News: Drones could soon be used for delivering COVID-19 vaccines in remote and hard to reach geographies in the country.
About the Drone Policy of India:
According to India’s national aviation authority, the Ministry of Civil Aviation, flying a drone is legal in India, but we recommend being aware of and compliant with the drone regulations listed below before doing so.
Foreigners are currently not allowed to fly drones in India. For commercial purposes, they need to lease the drone to an Indian entity who in-turn will obtain Unique Identification Number (UIN) and UAOP from DGCA.
Based on our research and interpretation of the laws, here are the most important rules to know for flying a drone in India.
All drones except those in the Nano category must be registered and issued a Unique Identification Number (UIN).
A permit is required for commercial drone operations (except for those in the Nano category flown below 50 feet and those in the Micro category flown below 200 feet).
Drone pilots must maintain a direct visual line of sight at all times while flying.
Drones cannot be flown more than 400 feet vertically.
Drones cannot be flown in areas specified as “No Fly Zones”, which include areas near airports, international borders, Vijay Chowk in Delhi, State Secretariat Complex in State Capitals, strategic locations, and military installations.
Permission to fly in controlled airspace can be obtained by filing a flight plan and obtaining a unique Air Defense Clearance (ADC)/Flight Information Center (FIC) number.
Drone Categories in India
Registration is required for all but the Nano category.
Nano: Less than or equal to 250 grams (.55 pounds)
Micro: From 250 grams (.55 pounds) to 2kg (4.4 pounds)
Small: From 2kg (4.4 pounds) to 25kg (55 pounds)
Medium: From 25kg (55 pounds) to 150kg (330 pounds)
Large: Greater than 150kg (33 pounds)
Also worth noting is that India has specific requirements regarding the types of features a drone must have to be flown in India (excluding those in the Nano category). These mandatory requirements include:
A flight controller with flight data logging capability
RF ID and SIM/No Permission No Takeoff (NPNT)
Before every single flight, drone pilots are required to request permission to fly via a mobile app, which will automatically process the request and grant or reject it. India is calling their system “No Permission, No Takeoff” (NPNT). If a drone pilot tries to fly without receiving permission from the Digital Sky Platform, he or she will simply not be able to take off.
All drone operators will register their drone and request permission to fly for each flight through India’s Digital Sky Platform. The Digital Sky Platform and further details will be available on the DGCA website from December 1, 2018.
2. DEEP OCEAN MISSION
News: The Union Cabinet has approved the long-pending deep ocean mission, which among other things involves developing a submersible vehicle that will allow a crew to plunge 6,000 metres into the ocean and hunt the floor for precious metals. If this works, India will be among a handful of countries able to launch an underwater mission at such depths.
There are six components to the programme. A manned submersible will be developed to carry three people to a depth of 6,000 metres in the ocean with a suite of scientific sensors and tools.
An integrated mining system will be also developed for mining polymetallic nodules at those depths in the central Indian Ocean.
“The exploration studies of minerals will pave way for the commercial exploitation in the near future, as and when commercial exploitation code is evolved by the International Seabed Authority, an United Nations organisation,” says an accompanying press note.
The second component involves developing Ocean Climate Change Advisory Services, which entails developing a suite of observations and models to understand and provide future projections of important climate variables on seasonal to decadal time scales.
The next component is searching for deep sea flora and fauna, including microbes, and studying ways to sustainably utilise them.
The fourth component is to explore and identify potential sources of hydrothermal minerals that are sources of precious metals formed from the earth’s crust along the Indian Ocean mid-oceanic ridges. The fifth component involves studying and preparing detailed engineering design for offshore Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) powered desalination plants.
The final component is aimed at grooming experts in the field of ocean biology and engineering. This component aims to translate research into industrial applications and product development through on-site business incubator facilities.
India has been allotted a site of 75,000 square kilometres in the Central Indian Ocean Basin (CIOB) by the UN International Sea Bed Authority for exploitation of polymetallic nodules (PMN). These are rocks scattered on the seabed containing iron, manganese, nickel and cobalt.
About International Seabed Authority:
The International Seabed Authority (ISA) is an intergovernmental body based in Kingston, Jamaica, that was established to organize, regulate and control all mineral-related activities in the international seabed area beyond the limits of national jurisdiction (referred to as “the Area”), an area underlying most of the world’s oceans.
It is an organization established by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.