Drones not trucks to carry cargo to ships? Civil aviation ministry may open up skies for faster transportation

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Published: February 19, 2020 11:07 PM

The committee will identify green, yellow and red zones for demarcating the areas of the drones to fly.

drones, cargo dronesWhile the committee will demarcate the zones, the civil aviation ministry will give the final clearance.

The civil aviation ministry will soon open up the skies for drones to fly with cargo that can substitute trucks for carrying goods up to ships and can enable faster transportation with lesser carbon footprint. The drones are being planned for not only cargo transportation but for facilitating delivery system of e-commerce platforms, which will create new dimensions in the entire logistics chain.

A civil aviation ministry official told fe that during October last year the Union home ministry made recommendations to the civil aviation peer to frame a policy of flying drones in the sky mainly to enable faster transportation of goods and easing the loading of ships and thereby, reducing a ship’s average turnaround time. The home ministry asked all the states to form a high-powered committee to be headed by the home secretary of the respective states with members from the state and central intelligence.

The committee will identify green, yellow and red zones for demarcating the areas of the drones to fly. The green zone will be a free zone with no permission required for flying, while the yellow zone will be meant for flying of only licensed drones. Red zone will be restricted and drones will not be allowed to fly in such areas.

While the committee will demarcate the zones, the civil aviation ministry will give the final clearance. The civil aviation ministry will launch an app, digital sky, through which owners of the drones will have to apply for registration. Permission to fly in a particular area will also be obtained from the app, a ministry official said, adding the entire system will be under the administrative control of the civil aviation ministry but there will be coordination with the state and central intelligence as well with the respective state police department to run the entire system.

Although none of the states have formed the committee, the Union home ministry is persuading the states to have it in place. The central intelligence is already coordinating with the civil aviation ministry to bring the entire system under a policy framework.

Companies like Boeing are looking at an opportunity to market their cargo air vehicle weighing above 700 pounds or more than 320 kgs and having a capacity to carry payloads of up to 225 kgs. E -commerce platforms like Amazon have already put up proposals to deliver goods at the customers’ doorsteps using drones and such company-owned drones and private drones could together make an autonomous urban aircraft industry by 2030.

“Initially, we want to go with cargo and delivery drones for ease of doing business. At a later stage, drones can be used as air taxis for shuttling passengers for short distances,” the ministry official said.

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