Govt gives wing to drone policy (On new drone rules 2021)

Source: Business Standard, TOI, Livemint, TH

What is the news?

The Ministry of Civil Aviation has notified Drone Rules, 2021, under which the coverage of all-up weight of an unmanned aircraft system has been increased from 300 kg to 500 kg. It will include heavy payload-carrying drones for use in the logistics and transportation sectors, and also drone taxis.

Background

In July this year, govt had released draft drone rules 2021. These draft rules have been notified now.

Newly notified Drone rules 2021 will replace, much-criticized, Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) rules 2021 that had come into effect this March only.

Must Read: Draft Drone Rules 2021 
Drone rules 2021
Source: Business Standard
Significance 

The issuance of these rules marks a new era in the Indian drone ecosystem, which has a market potential of more than Rs 50,000 crore and can create 500,000 professional jobs in the next five years.

  • The regulations, which cover drones up to 500 kg, shall open up opportunities for indigenous manufacturing of delivery drones and drone taxis, making India future-ready.
  • Under the new rules, the Centre may promote the adoption of drones and unmanned vehicles through the constitution of an Unm­anned Aircraft Systems Prom­otion Council. This would facilitate the development of a business-friendly regulatory regi­me, including automated per­­mis­sions, the establishment of incubators and other facilities for the development of unman­ned aircraft system technologies, etc.
  • Rules will help leverage India’s strengths in innovation, technology & engineering to transform India into a drone hub of the world.
  • They would enable start-ups and small and medium enterprises to create innovative-use cases and applications in various sectors like e-commerce, agriculture, mining, healthcare, emergency response and logistics.
Must Read: Threats posed by UAVs – Explained
More reforms in order

Simultaneously, the government is working on giving approval to the Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLoS) operations for drones. While Visual Line of Sight flights are dependent upon and operated within the pilot’s line of sight, BVLoS allows drones to fly beyond the visual range, lowering the cost of operation and making it feasible to deploy drones for commercial purposes like food or medicine delivery or air taxi.

What now?

An interactive airspace map with green, yellow, and red zones (depending upon national security) will have to be developed on the digital sky platform. The central govt has started working with states and defense organizations to identify the red, green, and yellow zones. This will take another two months, following which the digital sky platform will be live.

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