In March 2021, the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) unveiled the New Drone Rules, 2021, replacing the existing Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Rules 2020. The new rules are based on “trust, self-certification and non-intrusive monitoring.”
The new rules were drafted to create a “digital sky platform” as a business-friendly single-window online system for procuring various approvals with minimal human interface, reduced fee, where most permissions will be self-generated.
The move is directed to abolish unwanted barriers of seeking approvals, promote the use of drones, and focus on the development of counter-drone technology to deal with the threat posed by rogue drones.
Recently MoCA and Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) have granted conditional exemptions from Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Rules, 2021 to eight organizations for conducting experimental Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) drone flights, according to the tweets posted in their Twitter handle.
The organizations that have been granted conditional exemptions are:
- Mahindra & Mahindra, Mumbai, Maharashtra for conducting drone-based agricultural trials & precision spraying on paddy and hot pepper crops in Telangana & Andhra Pradesh, respectively.
- Bayer Crop Science, Mumbai, Maharashtra for conducting drone-based agricultural research activities and agricultural spraying.
- Tractors and Farm Equipment Limited, Chennai, Tamil Nadu for conducting drone-based aerial spraying to assess crop health & prevent crop disease.
- Blue Ray Aviation, Gujarat for conducting remote pilot training using drones.
- Steel Authority of India, IISCO Steel Plant, Burnpur, West Bengal for conducting perimeter surveillance of the plant.
- Gangtok Smart City Development for a drone-based aerial survey for Smart City Project.
- National Health Mission, Mumbai for conducting experimental BVLOS drone flights to deliver essential healthcare items in tribal areas of Jawar in the Palghar district of Maharashtra.
- The Government of Karnataka for drone-based aerial survey for creating urban property ownership records in Bengaluru.
“These exemptions are valid for a period of one year from the date of approval or until further orders, whichever is earlier and shall be subject to the terms and conditions of the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) issued by the DGCA,” the ministry said in a statement.
Earlier in June, MoCA and DGCA have granted conditional exemptions to the Survey of India (SOI) for large scale mapping of inhabited areas of villages under the central government scheme – Survey of Villages and Mapping with Improvised Technology in Village Areas (SVAMITVA) as well to ICAR- Central Potato Research Institutes (CPRI) for agricultural research activities in its research farm using drones.
Apart from that, the MoCA and DGCA have also granted conditional exemptions from UAS Rules, 2021 to 20 consortia in May, 2021, according to PIB:
- AutoMicroUAS Aerotech Pvt. Ltd.
- Centillion Networks Pvt. Ltd.
- Marut Dronetech Pvt. Ltd.
- SKylark Drones & Swiggy
- Terradrone Consortium B
- The Consortium
- Virginia Tech India
- Aerospace Industry Development Association of Tamil Nadu (AIDAT)
- ANRA Consortium A
- ANRA Consortium B
- Asteria Aerospace Pvt. Ltd.
- ClearSky Flight Consortium
- Dhaksha Unmanned Systems Pvt. Ltd.
- Dunzo Air Consortium
- Sagar Defence Engineering Pvt. Ltd.
- Saubika Consortium
- ShopX Omnipresent Consortium
- Spicejet Ltd.
- Throttle Aerospace Systems Pvt. Ltd.
- Value Thought IT Solutions Pvt. Ltd.