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India’s New Drone Rules Explained: No Licence Needed To Fly Drones In India

India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation on Thursday notified the new liberalized Drone Rules, 2021. The previous rules which were revealed in March 2021 were quite restrictive after which the government moved forward with certain amendments that are now in force.

In addition to notifying the new liberalized drone rules, the government of India has also banned all drone imports except for the purpose of research and development for which a separate license is needed. Though it has already been more than a year but no Indian company has taken up the challenge of filling the gap. We, SoaringRobotics, are planning to launch a consumer-grade drone that will be less than 249g.

In this post, we’ll clarify some frequently asked questions about the liberalization rules for drones in India that the government has notified in 2021. These rules can give birth to a shining drone industry in India and can push India to the forefront of drone technology.

No government intrusion for drone use in India

In its notification, the Indian government claims that new regulatory rules for the usage of drones in India are built on the premise of “trust, self-certification, and monitoring with the minimal scope of intrusion.” The focus this time has shifted from precaution to maximization of drone usage in the country. This will give a push to drone enthusiasts in India which can kickstart a big industry.

With the new drone rules, the Indian government hopes to trigger the growth of drone usage in multiple industries. 

No unique authorization number for drones in India 

Earlier, the Indian government had mandated a series of approvals including a unique authorization number, a unique prototype identification number, a certificate of manufacturing and airworthiness, a certificate of conformance, a certificate of maintenance, acceptance of existing drones, remote pilot instructor authorization, and so on. 

Now, none of these approvals are required, as per the August 26, 2021, order issued by the Indian government for drone use in the country. This will also help to relieve a lot of headaches that many enthusiasts may have had to face earlier.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are drones?

Drones are officially known as “Unmanned Aircraft Sytems (UAS)” and are extremely useful in different sectors including transportation, agriculture, defense, law enforcement, surveillance, and emergency response.

This explainer breaks down the basic facets of the improved drone rules.

Do you need a permit to fly mini drones in India?

The new drone rules aim to ease the process of using drones in India for various purposes, including non-commercial use. For example, under India’s new drone rules, you do not require security clearance to operate and fly tiny drones in the air. In addition, the government is carving out drone corridors to facilitate delivery of cargo deliveries.

How much weight can drones carry?

With the new drone rules, the government has increased the payload of drones from 300 kilograms to 500 kilograms.

What is the penalty for non-conformity?

The new maximum penalty for drone-related non-conformity stands at ₹1,00,000 in India. Even then, this does not take into account other laws that one may break in the process of using drones, which the government hasn’t clarified yet.

Where can I fly my drone? What about green zones?

Now, the Green, Yellow, and Red zones will be shown on the digital sky platform to enable ease for all stakeholders. The Yellow Zone has been reduced from 45 to 12 kilometers around airports. Within the Green Zone, no permission is required to operate drones up to 200 feet covering a distance of 8 to 12 kilometers near the airport perimeter. 

Do I still need to register my drone? 

YES! Online registration for all drones is mandatory and can be done on the digital sky platform which can be accessed here. The process for the transfer and de-registration of drones is also expected to get easier.

Do I need a pilot’s license for a drone in India?

For non-commercial use, no pilot license is required if you’re operating nano and micro drones, the new government rules state.

Cost of remote pilot license for drones? 

The fee for a remote pilot license for drones in India has been reduced to nominal levels and also delinked from the size of the drone. Now, you need to pay ₹100 for all categories of drones and the remote pilot license for drones will be valid for 10 years.

Will the drone rules be updated?

The government will notify more updates on parameters like ‘No permission – no take off’ (NPNT), real-time tracking beacon, geo-fencing, etc. The government is now offering a minimum six-month lead time for compliance with the new drone rules issued today.

How to do drone training and examination? 

All drone training will be provided only by authorized drone schools. The Indian Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) will set training requirements, assess drone schools, and provide pilot licenses online.

Who needs a drone license in India? 

Research and development entities no longer require a type certificate, a unique identification number, prior permission, or a remote pilot license for drone flying in India. 
“Type certification” of the drones will now be undertaken by the Quality Council of India and other entities that have received authorization from QCI. 
The import of drones will now be overseen by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT). In addition, the government will set up Unmanned Aircraft Systems Promotion Council to ensure regulation that booms business. Read the Indian government’s 30-point approach to drones in India here.