New Delhi: The Ministry of Civil Aviation has decided to repeal the restricted-in-nature Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Rules, 2021 and replace the same with the liberalised Rules. Published in March 2021, the UAS Rules 2021 were initially perceived as being restrictive in nature as they involved considerable paperwork, required permissions for every drone flight and very few “free to fly” green zones were available.However, academia, Startups, end-users and other stakeholders highlighted tremendous benefits of drones to almost all sectors of the economy, following which, the Centre has decided to replace UAS Rules, 2021 with the liberalised Drone Rules, 2021. Commonly known as drones, the Unmanned Aircraft Systems can be significant creators of employment and economic growth due to their reach, versatility, and ease of use, especially in India’s remote and inaccessible areas. Taking a note of this, the Civil Aviation Ministry in a statement said, “In view of its traditional strengths in innovation, information technology, frugal engineering and huge domestic demand, India has the potential to be global drone hub by 2030.” Key Features Of Drone Rules 2021As per the revised Drone Rules 2021, no permission required for operating drones in green zones. Remote pilot licence will no longer be required for micro drones (for non-commercial use) and nano drones. There will no restriction on foreign ownership in Indian drone companies. Manufacturers and importers may generate their drones’ unique identification number on the digital sky platform through the self-certification route.
Digital sky platform shall be developed as a user-friendly single-window system. There will be minimal human interface and most permissions will be self-generated.Moreover, several approvals have been abolished including unique authorisation number, unique prototype identification number, certificate of manufacturing and airworthiness, certificate of conformance, certificate of maintenance, import clearance, acceptance of existing drones, operator permit, authorisation of R&D organisation, student remote pilot licence, remote pilot instructor authorisation, drone port authorisation etc.Quantum of fee reduced to nominal levels and delinked with size of drone. For instance, the fee for a remote pilot license fee has been reduced from INR 3000 (for large drone) to INR 100 for all categories of drones; and is valid for 10 years.The Ministry also said that a Drone promotion council to be set up by Government with participation from academia, startups and other stakeholders to facilitate a growth-oriented regulatory regime.