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Everything you need to know about flying Drones in India

Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has recently introduced guidelines for using UAV/ Drones in India. This regulation would be in effect from 1st December,2018. We tried discuss as much information we could in this article.

Categories of Drones:
Nano: Weight less than 250 grams/ 0.55 pounds.
Micro: Weight from more than 250 grams/ 0.55 pounds to 2KG/ 4.40 pounds.
Small: Weight from more than 2KG/ 4.40 pounds to 25KG/ 55.11 pounds.
Medium: Weight from 25KG/ 55.11 pounds to 150KG/ 330 pounds.
Large:  Weight more than 150KG/ 330 pounds.

What kind of Drones are allowed in India?
If any one intend to buy drones from any local authorized dealers/ stores please make sure that the dealer is providing  ETA (Equipment Type Approval) from WPC (Wireless Planning & Coordination) which is needed for obtaining UIN, the model must be operating in de-licensed frequency (between 5.825 to 5.875 GHz).

Following system requirements for drones to operate in India:

I. GNSS for horizontal and vertical position fixing.
II. Autonomous Flight Termination System or Return Home (RH) option.
III. Flashing anti-collision strobe lights.
IV. RFID and GSM SIM Card/ NPNT compliant for App based real time tracking.
V. Fire resistant identification plate inscribed with UIN.
VI. Flight controller with flight data logging capability.

In case of flying in Controlled areas or above 400 feet:
VII. SSR transponder (Mode ‘C’ or ‘S’) or ADS-B OUT equipment
VIII. Barometric equipment with capability for remote sub-scale setting
IX. Geofencing capability.
X. Detect and Avoid capability.

For Imported:
If you intend to import any drone in India, you can import via someone or entity who has import export license(IEC). Amazon international, Alibaba, ebay should be able to import any model for you. However before ordering, please check if they are willing to get the approvals for you. If they do not, you would require to get the approvals by yourself. And the manufacture also needs to submit Certificate of Compliance along with NPNT compliance to DGCA.
For approval you are required to obtain ETA(Equipment Type Approval) from WPC (Wireless Planning & Coordination), and permission from DoT(Department of Telecommunication).
Other than nano drones, your importer needs to obtain clearance from DGCA to import the drone.

Who can operate drone/ UAV in Indian territory?
Currently only an Indian citizen or Indian entity can operate drones in Indian territory. If you are a foreign national and want to take video using drone, in that case you would require to contact any local entity or person who has licence and drone as well to operate in Indian territory.
If you are a foreign national please do not fall for someone who says he has license to operate but no drone and wants to use your drone. Government of India issues license for operating everyone's individual drone. And if you are really keen to operate drone by yourself please get in touch with Indian embassy and get it clarified if you can get the clearance to operate your own drone. If you don’t, then please do not bring your drone or it might be confiscated by Indian customs, if the radio frequency of your drone operates is not permitted in India.

What are the criteria to operate drone in India?
1. You must be age of 18 years and above.
2. You must have passed 10th exam in English.
3. You must have undergone flight training through DGCA approved flying training organisation. (Not required for Nano and Micro drones operating under 200 feet).
4. You must have an insurance for operating drone to cover up any damage, which might incur due to drone usage during flight. DGCA has not mentioned any particular amount in the regulation.

Note: Operating Nano drone under 50 feet does not require UIN or approval from local police.

What are the cost to obtain licence?
If you plan to fly any drones which fall under micro category, you would require to obtain UIN(Unique Identification Number) and the fee would be Rs. 1000.
For any drone except nano and micro category, the operator needs to obtain UAOP (Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit) and the first registration fee would be Rs.25000 for renewal fees would be Rs.10000.

What is the difference between UIN and UAOP?
UIN (Unique Identification Number) typically required for operating micro drones for flying under 200 feet. In order to obtain UIN, you do not require to undergo any training flight training through DGCA approved flying training organisation. UIN does not allow drone operation beyond 200 feet or heavier drone than micro drones.
As DGCA has not mentioned any renewal fees or UIN validity duration for UIN, we can presume UIN validity is for lifetime.

If you would like to operate any drone which is heavier than micro drone or beyond 200 feet in that case you would require to obtain UAOP (Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit), which requires you to undergo flight training through DGCA approved flying training organisations. Which includes Basic Radio Telephony (RT) techniques including knowledge of radio frequencies; Flight Planning and ATC procedures; Regulations specific to area of operations, Basic knowledge of principles of flight and aerodynamics for fixed wing, rotary wing, and hybrid aircraft; Airspace Structure and Airspace Restrictions with knowledge  of No Drone Zones; Basic Aviation Meteorology; Piratical of flying drones including safe recovery and emergency system malfunction. 

How to obtain UIN?
Please click on the following link for Digital Sky registration. UIN applicable per drone, if you have multiple drones you would require to obtain multiple UIN.

How to obtain UAOP?
1. Register your drone through Digital Sky Platform.
2. Permission from land owner for take of and landing.
3. Details of the drone operator along with security clearance from MHA (Ministry of Home Affairs) with Passport/ Driving Licence/Aadhar Card,
4. Copies of training record.
5. Insurance details.
6. Security program approval by BCAS(Bureau of Civil Aviation Security).
The validity of UAOP would be 5 years. In order to renew UAOP, you would require to obtain security clearance from MHA again.

How to make payment for UIN/UAOP?
Payment gateway has been enabled for the registration in Digital Sky Application. Alternatively you can make the payment trhough https://bharatkosh.gov.in and upload the receipt on Digital Sky Page.

What is NPNT?
No Permission-No Take off (NPNT) is a compliance software or function connected to Digital Sky App. Which disables drone take off without valid permission from DGCA. All drone except nano require to be NPNT enabled.

How to obtain permit to fly?
As DGCA notification cited registration and login link would be made available from 1st December, 2018. From Digital Sky you would require to register yourself before you can apply for any permit. We are assuming registration of AADHAR card details might be mandatory to register. During registration you would require to provide details of your drone, such as manufacturer, model no, wireless frequency, insurance number etc along with operator/ your personal details and registration fees. Once you are already registered you can simply login in Digital Sky and update flight plan prior 24 hours of actual flight (Applicable for all drones except nano).

Where can I fly Drones?
The government of India divides airspace in two categories controlled and uncontrolled.

Uncontrolled Airspace is anything but Prohibited or controlled airspace.

Controlled Airspace: 
Within 25 KM from International border including Line of Control(LoC), Line of actual control (LAC) and Actual ground Position Line (AGPL). Within 5KM distance from Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata airport. Within 3KM distance of any other civil, private, defence airport. Within 3 KM of perimeter of military installation or facilities. 5KM radius from Vijay Chowk in Delhi. Beyond 500 meters from cost line. Within 2 km from perimeter of strategic locations/ vital installations(We have requested clarification to MHA regarding same, we will update once MHA clarifies) . Within 3KM radius of sate Secretariat complex in state capitals. Any wildlife sanctuary such as forest or national park.(Permission required from Ministry of environment to fly drones in any national park or forest).

Requirements for operating in Controlled airspace requirements.
Operator must be equipped with communication facilities to establish two way communication with the concerned ATS (Air Traffic Service) unit. The drone's tracking system must be self powered and tamper/ spoofing proof to ensure data relay even in the event of accident. The operator must maintain contact with ATC (Air Traffic Control) during flight. All communication between ATC and ATS should be maintained as ICAO phraseology.

Additional Requisitions for operating drones bigger than Micro and nano in controlled and uncontrolled airspace:
1. Submit flight plan prior to 24 hours of flight via Digital Sky platform.
2. Your are require to go through ATC briefing, Meteorology briefing and ATC clearness.
3. Air Defence Clarence from nearest Indian Air force Unit.
4. Obtain FIC number from the Flight Information Centre for communication between operator and ATC.

Drone flying conditions:
1. Drone should be operated between sunrise to sunset.
2. Minimum ground visibility should be 5KM and cloud ceiling not less than 1500 feet (450 m).
3. Surface winds not more than 10 knots or as specified by the device manufacturer.
4. No precipitation (rain, hail or snow) or thunderstorm activities, or exceeding those specified by the device manufacturer.

What are the Dos and Don'ts?

Dos:
1. Once you receive your UIN get a print out and affix the UIN number on fire resistant plate on your drone. You would also require to make sure that the number stays affixed all the time of operation and the number should be clearly visible.
2. If you have any drone bigger than nano, submit flight plan prior 24 hours of flight time via Digital Sky.
3. For micro drones and above obtain written approval from local police station prior 24 hours of flight time.
4. In case any accident, mishap or incident you are obligated to inform the same via Digital Sky App.
5. In case of loss, theft of UAV please lodge FIR and inform DGCA via Digital Sky Platform.
6. Keep all flight logs saved and you are required to produce them in case DGCA asks.
7. Always keep in mind crash/ emergency/ malfunction control techniques.

Dont’s :

1. Do not fly nano beyond 50 feet and micro drone beyond 200 feet from the ground level. If you wish to fly more than designated 50 and 200 feet level obtain UAOP.
2. Do not sell/ transfer/ give your drone to anyone before cancelling UIN via Digital Sky platform. New owner would require to obtain new UIN in case of ownership transfer.
3. Do not try to carry anything other than the camera. Dropping or carrying other substances are not allowed.
4. Do not operate any drone at night. Operating drones are allowed between sunrise to sunset.
5. Do not fly drones unless all system and security check performed, as suggested by manufacturer.
6. Take off and Landing area should not be accessible by public.
7. Do not let anyone else to fly your drone.

Grievance against drone can be registered via https://www.pgportal.gov.in.

For any clarification please get in touch with DGCA. If you have any question you would like us to clarify feel free to tweet us @StockInifinities and we will try to clarify as much question as we can.

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