Introduction Unlike in the USA and other western countries, flying a Drone, which is also known as Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) or Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), is not much prevalent in India. Now its use is gaining momentum for its wide range of operations and a detailed look into various aspects of its use is necessary.
What is a drone A drone is an unmanned aircraft system, it has no human pilot inside and is controlled by an operator from the ground.
It is always exciting to own an unmanned aircraft system like drone that can fly in the open sky with the user's control from ground, but you must follow certain rules so that it doesn't hurt others. While driving a car, you follow rules of that particular territory based on the grade of the road, degree of curves and traffic movement. In case of drones the rules are stricter because the area of operation is open sky where manned aircraft also flies and moreover there are chances of intrusion into restricted zones if not controlled properly.
Purpose of using a drone Drones are used for different purposes and categorized according to their specific use. Generally, its use is classified in the following three categories.
Recreation: Recreational use of drone is very limited and mainly for fun – like flying a drone on the beach, flying a drone in an open space as pastime, aeromodelling, etc.
Business: The most important business use of a drone is in aerial photography. By using the drone camera, pictures and videos are taken for a particular event. It is also used for security purpose, inspection or land surveys and in agriculture.
Public entities: The drone is used as public entity when it is used for any law enforcing agencies, disaster management agencies or any other government agencies.
India's aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has published the civil aviation requirements (CAR) for flying drones by civilians in August 2018. According to the CAR, the classification of drones and their operational requirements are given below.
Classification of drones Drones are classified according to their weight, technically this weight is called Maximum Take-Off Weight or MTOW, and on its basis there are 5 categories:
Nano: weighs upto 250 grams
Micro: weighs between 250grams and 2 Kg
Mini: weighs between 2 Kg and 25 Kg
Small: weighs between 25 Kg and 150 Kg
Large: weighs more than 150 Kg.
Where to apply before purchasing a drone The drones can either be imported or made by Indian entities. For both cases, the applicant has to apply in the prescribed format to the DGCA mentioning the required number of drones, its technical specifications along with the name of the manufacturer, purpose and base of its use to obtain the drones and after receiving the clearance they have to proceed to apply for the Unique Identification Number (UIN) and Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit (UAOP)
Operating requirements To operate a drone, two things are required; a) Unique Identification Number (UIN) and b) Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit (UAOP). Both of these are provided by DGCA upon request.
B>Ownership requirements for issuing UIN
Documents required for issuing UIN
The applicant has to submit the above documents along with the application form and requisite fees to Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). After necessary verification, UIN will be issued within two days.
Documents required for issuing UAOP
The above documents along with the duly filled in application and requisite fees have to be submitted to DGCA seven days before the actual operations. The validity of the UAOP is five years from the issuing date and is non-transferable. Additional requirements may be imposed by DGCA on specific cases.
The necessary requirements for the drone operators Since drones are controlled from the ground by an operator, known as remote pilot, necessary training conforming to the rules of DGCA is mandatory to conduct the operation.
However, to operate Nano and Micro category drones, no specific training is required.
General operating guidelines for flying a drone
Conclusion The responsibility of proper use, safety and maintenance of the drones lies with the operator and all necessary guidelines must be followed while operating a drone. Whether you are using the drone for recreational purpose or business purpose utmost care has to be taken so that it should not invade into other's territory or harm any individual. The guidelines provided in the article are customary in nature and the detailed operating rules issued by DGCA must be followed during each operation.