Drones must serve a larger populace

Drones must serve a larger populace


Flying drones have become legal in India starting December 1 with the National Drones Policy drafted by the Ministry of Civil Aviation coming into effect.

Important facts:

What are drones?

  1. Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has defined Drone/remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) as an unmanned aircraft piloted from a remote pilot station.
  2. The remotely piloted aircraft, its associated remote pilot station(s), command and control links and any other components form a Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS).

About Drone Regulations 1.0

  1. As per the Civil Aviation Requirements issued under the provisions of Rule 15A and Rule 133A of the Aircraft Rules, 1937, the drones will need the following:
  • Registered Unique Identification Number (UIN), the fee for which is Rs 1000
  • Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit (UAOP), the fee for which is Rs. 25000 and is valid for 5 years
  • Compliance to NPNT (No permission – No Take off), a software program to enable operators to obtain permissions prior to flying.
  1. The DGCA has classified drones into five different categories in accordance with their maximum take-off weight as follows:
  • Nano — Less than or equal to 250 g (does not need registration or license)
  • Micro — From 250 g to 2 kg
  • Small — From 2 kg to 25 kg
  • Medium — From 25 kg to 150 kg
  • Large — Greater than 150 kg
  1. Digital Sky – an online platform to be operational from December 1 has been developed for handling UIN, UAOP applications and permission to fly drones

Issues and Concerns

  1. Surveillance: Surveillance by means of drones raises significant issues for privacy and civil liberties
  2. Safety: Biggest safety threat from drones is potential collisions with airplanes. While most airports ban drones from flying near them, such rules may potentially be hard to enforce and cause serious damages
  3. Environmental: Irresponsible drone use could cause harm to birds by disrupting nests, provoking attacks and mid-air collisions
  4. Societal:
  • Drone has wide applications in rural areas especially in the agricultural sector where it can be used to map vegetation stress, prevent crop-raiding by wild animals, precise spraying of pesticides etc.
  • However, the processes and fees involved in obtaining permission to fly a drone would make it difficult for rural people to use drones.
  1. Technical/Implementation challenges: According to some recent reports, there are delays in the creation of the Digital Sky system which would unnecessarily delay the implementation of the Rules.
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