Centre releases guidelines to manage drones in Indian airspace

Asia's Tech News Daily

Centre releases guidelines to manage drones in Indian airspace
© Provided by CNBCTV18

To encourage wider adoption of drones in healthcare, logistics and agriculture sectors, the Centre has notified a traffic management framework for unmanned aircraft in airspace under 1,000 feet.

The National Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Traffic Management Policy Framework provides guidelines for tracking drones in Indian airspace. It also allows integration between traffic management entities, air traffic controllers, law enforcement agencies and the government.

The framework permits public and private third-party service providers to manage the unmanned aircraft in lower airspace.

Also read: This drone tech company aims to be the leader in the enterprise space

Third-party service providers will be allowed to do registration, dynamic deconfliction, flight planning and provide data on weather, terrain and position of manned aircraft.

Supplementary service providers will be allowed to provide insurance and data analytics support to the UAS Traffic Management (UTM) ecosystem, the government said.

At present, air traffic management (ATM) systems are not equipped to handle traffic of unmanned aerial vehicles, the framework issued on October 24 said.

“Integration of unmanned aircraft in the Indian airspace using conventional means may require unmanned aircraft to be equipped with bulky and expensive hardware, which is neither feasible nor advisable. This requires the creation of a separate, modern, primarily software-based, automated UAS Traffic Management (UTM) system,” it said, adding that the system may be subsequently integrated with traditional ATM systems

Also read: Explained: How govt’s Rs 120-crore PLI scheme for drones can redefine sector

For onboarding UTMs, the government will first float a request for proposal (RFP), which will be followed by an evaluation process. Those selected will provide UTM services within a small coverage area as notified by the government. On successful deployment of services, the government will allow these service providers to scale up their coverage area.

Approvals and permissions to drone operators will be provided on the DigitalSky platform.

All drones will have to mandatorily provide real-time location through the network to the Centre. Nano drones operating in the green zone are exempted from the rule.

Drone operators will have to pay a service fee to service providers, a portion of which can be shared with the Airports Authority of India (AAI).

The AAI and Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) will be the regulatory and operational authorities, the framework notified, adding that other stakeholders will include the Air Defence Authority, Bureau of Civil Aviation Security and law enforcement and security agencies.

Also read: Drone policy ‘historic’, want to create drone ecosystem in India: Jyotiraditya Scindia

“The safety of manned and unmanned aircraft across the Indian airspace is a critical requirement and needs to be enabled by a combination of standards, procedures, technology and real-time data exchange,” the framework said.

In September, the Centre had approved a production-linked incentive scheme for drones and drone components, allocating Rs 120 crore over three financial years.

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