In what would prove to be a hitch for e-tailers planning delivery services using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), Centre is ready to notify norms for commercial operation of drones that are likely to restrict it to only line-of-sight services. Sources in the know informed a meeting to deliberate on regulations for commercial operation of drones was chaired by secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) last month.
“Comments have in come in from defence ministry and Department of Telecommunications (DoT). The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has been asked to submit their recommendations in the next two to three weeks. The norms are broadly being framed to allow line-of-sight operations of UAVs,” said a government official.
A policy outlining guidelines is likely to be notified shortly. With this India will become one of the five countries worldwide to have notified regulations for commercial use of drones. Apart from the US, Australia, New Zealand and Spain have defined norms for operation of drones.
However, the proposed guidelines may put a spanner in plans of e-tailers such as Amazon which in December had said it is looking at launching delivery of goods using drones first in India, if they are allowed for commercial use. Amazon had showcased in the US its Prime Air drone, an octocopter in December 2013.
India had banned private organisations and individuals from launching UAVs in October 2014. Once the DGCA’s norms are in place, UAVs could open up a host of applications for civilians. “The useful aspects of civilian drones are well known — agriculture, wildlife conservation, search and rescue, aerial photography, etc,” said Amber Dubey, partner and India head (aerospace and defence), KPMG.
However, drones also hold potential risks. Besides debates about their use for intrusive surveillance, battery failure or loss of navigational control could cause accidents.
Apart from DGCA nod, the operator will require clearance from the air navigation service provider, the defence ministry and home affairs and other concerned agencies.
The draft rules have been framed based on proposals which have been announced by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the United States and by the Civil Aviation and Safety Authority (CASA) in Australia. FAA’s proposed rules permit certified operators to fly UAVs weighing up to 55 pounds during day time. Commercial drones will be permitted to fly at a speed of up to 100 miles per hour and at heights of up to 500 feet. Operators will have to renew their permit every two years.
Soon, 5th nation with drone norms
* With this move, India will become one of the five countries worldwide to have notified regulations for commercial use of drones soon
* Apart from the US, Australia, New Zealand and Spain have norms for operation of drones