How to differentiate a bonafide drone from a rogue one? That’s the key challenge being faced by the government before it allows commercial use of unmanned aerial vehicles. More than a year after aviation regulator DGCA came out with draft norms for unmanned aircraft system, the civil aviation and the home ministries are still discussing ways to put in a robust framework to regulate them. Civil Aviation Secretary R N Choubey said there are still apprehensions about drones, with the issue of tracking them remaining a major technological challenge. “I would not say that we have come to a stage where we can say that we have a nice system for drones.
“We are still finding that the issue of tracking of drones is a very major technological challenge. How to track whether a particular drone is a bonafide drone or a rogue drone. So that technical aspect we are working on,” Choubey told PTI in an interview. Amid concerns over security, the government had banned the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UASs), including drones, by civilians in October 2014. In April 2016, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) came out with draft norms for UASs, including drones. Discussions have been going within the government and among the stakeholders for quite sometime on the matter but a finality is yet to emerge.
While stressing that regulation of drones would be done by the DGCA, Choubey said it would be in a manner that satisfies the security agencies. “DGCA will regulate the drones. It will regulate it in a manner which is satisfactory to the security agencies of the country. They will provide the input but the regulation will be done by the DGCA,” the civil aviation secretary said. In October 2014, the government had banned the use of UAS by any non-government agency, organisation or an individual.
As per DGCA’s draft regulations, issued last year, drone users would have to secure a permit and a unique identification number for their operations. “Civilian use of UAS (unmanned aircraft system) includes damage assessment of property and life in areas affected with natural calamities, surveys; critical infrastructure monitoring, among others.
“UA (unmanned aircraft) operations present problems to the regulator in terms of ensuring safety of other users of airspace and persons on the ground,” it had said. Globally, there have been instances of drones and other unmanned aerial vehicles coming into the flight paths of aircraft, especially near busy airports, leading some of these countries to formulate rules to regulate these operations.