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India regulations for using drones part 1

The regulations for operating unmanned aircraft systems in India.
A person preparing to operate a drone
© The Institute for Drone Technology

Drone regulation in India.

The use of drones in India was illegal until 2018. Since then India has a come a long way in the regulations of drone use, however, there are still a lot regulations around their use.

India categorises drones by the following weight categories:

  • Nano: Less than or equal to 250 grams.
  • Micro: Greater than 250 grams and less than or equal to 2 kg.
  • Small: Greater than 2 kg and less than or equal to 25 kg.
  • Medium: Greater than 25 kg and less than or equal to 150 kg.
  • Large: Greater than 150 kg.

The regulator

In India, drones are regulated under the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). The DGCA has created a system called DigitalSky. All drone users above the nano category need to register themselves and their drones with DigitalSky. Each drone has a Unique Identification Number which must be displayed on the drone. Operators must hold a UAS Operator’s Permit (UAOP).

In addition, DigitalSky creates a No Permission No Take-off (NPNT) system whereby operators must seek permission to operate a drone. All drones must be fitted with technology that will prevent the drone from taking off unless permission is granted. There are a number of levels of regulatory stakeholders in India. Here are some them and what they are responsible for:

Directorate General of Civil Aviation

  • Import clearance
  • Issuance of UIN
  • Issuance & renewal of UAOP
  • Suspension / Cancellation of UIN & UAOP in case of violations of regulations.

Directorate General of Foreign Trade

  • Import license

Ministry of Home Affairs

  • Security clearance

Ministry of Defence

  • Permission for aerial survey/imageries/ videography/ still photography over the restricted/prohibited areas on case-to case basis

Indian Air Force

  • Air Defence Clearance
  • Monitoring of RPA movements in the country

Wireless Planning and Coordination Wing, DoT

  • Equipment Type Approval (ETA) or License for RPA

Bureau of Civil Aviation Security

  • Approval of Security Programme

Airport Authority of India

  • Flight Plan Approval
  • Monitoring of RPA movements in the country

Local Police Office

  • Enforcement of violators as per applicable IPCs

drone in sky background

It is also important to note that foreigners can not operate drones in India.

For more information on drone rules in India we suggest you start at the DigitalSky website.

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