The civil aviation ministry is in final stages of formulating the drone policy and it is expected to be released shortly, Union Minister Jayant Sinha said today. The ministry came out with draft rules for unmanned aircraft systems last year, seeking comments from the public. The Minister of State for Civil aviation said that certain issues related to security and global standards were discussed in detail with the concerned stakeholders. “We have finalised our work on the drone policy… Some tricky issues need to be resolved from security and global standards point of view. We are now at the end of that consultation process. So our hope is that very shortly we will have the final drone policy coming out,” he said here.
He was speaking in a session at the Global Exhibition on Services, organised by department of commerce and industry body CII. At present, the aircraft rules do not cover the use of drones as well as their sale and purchase. Aviation regulator DGCA had in October 2014 restricted the use of drones and unmanned aircraft system by civilians. According to the draft rules prepared by the DGCA, drones would require unique identification numbers while nano drones, those weighing below 250 grams, would be exempt from seeking one-time approval, including the unique number requirement. Drones have been classified into five categories, with those weighing up to 250 gram described as ‘nano’.
Those weighing more than 250 gram and up to 2 kilogram would be classified as ‘micro’ while ‘mini’ would be those having weight of over 2 kg and less than or equal to 25 kg. ‘Small’ drones would be those weighing up to 150 kg and the ones above that threshold would be classified as ‘large’. Talking about the prospects of the aviation sector, Sinha said it holds huge potential to push the country’s economic growth. He said the government is working on several areas including building airport capacity, strengthen regulatory institutions and enhancing skills required in the sector.
The aviation ministry is targeting a five-fold increase in passenger trips to one billion per annum in 15-20 years from the current 200 million in view of the huge growth opportunities the sector holds. It is “absolutely achievable” target, he said adding huge opportunities exists in aerospace manufacturing. Sinha said aviation was going to be one of the largest industries in India and airlines had placed orders for over 900 planes. He further said that India needs to follow “farm to frontier” model of growth and not farm to factory.