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Introduction to drones
[ Drones also known as Unmanned Aerial vehicles, as aircrafts without a pilot on board. ] [ As per the Ministry of Civil Aviation, drones are defined as technology platforms that have a wide ranging applications from photography to agriculture and from infrastructure to asset management. ]These are a digital and a technological advancement that have changed the way we look at aircrafts and also the number of operations that they can perform. These unmanned drone systems are not only for carrying passengers but to reach out at places and get information from various sources that are not humanly possible.[ There are five different categories of drones – nano, micro, small, medium and large. ]
Since they have such a wide range of applications, their regulation is of utmost importance to our government. For doing so, The Ministry of Civil Aviation has announced a scheme for voluntary registration of all the drones and their operators till January 31, 2020. After the registration The military also plans to issue a Drone Acknowledgement Number (DAN)and an Ownership Acknowledgement Number (OAN) which will help in the ownership of drones in India. The ownership without a DAN or an OAN shall invite penal action as per applicable laws. Both of these are applicable only if they fulfil the DGCA’s (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) drone regulations.
Need for drone regulations
Potential Commercial Applications – For leveraging drone’s potential commercial applications it becomes very important to regulate them. The drones can commercially be very beneficial. They can foster new forms of air freight capabilities, allowing transport of temperature and time sensitive commodities such as human organs, life saving medicines etc. the other commercial applications include agriculture irrigation, survey landscape and inspecting agricultural lands.
Security Imperatives- A well articulated drone policy is required as the risks have increased of drone weaponization. This could be added to our growing list of cyber threats and could result in concerns for public safety. For example- Recent global attacks on Saudi Arabia’s refineries and on Iran’s military commander are few such instances.
Privacy concerns- In this age of social media and technological advancement at its peak an unwanted surveillance can pose a major threat to one’s privacy. This could also lead to blackmailing and capturing unwanted pictures and videos.
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Drone regulation in India
The government of India in august 2018, came up with a set of norms, ‘ Drone Regulations 1.0’. these are intended to enable visual line of sight daytime only and maximum 400 ft. altitude operations of drones. Under these guidelines the sky is divided into-
[ Red zone- This denotes the ‘no fly zone’ which includes the airports, international borders, Vijay Chowk in Delhi, vital military illustrations, etc. ]
[ Yellow zone- Controlled airspace that requires Air Defence clearance or Air Traffic Control clearance. ]
[ Green zone- This is the unrestricted area where one is free to fly drones but still there is a need to get clearance from the digital sky platform. ]
Currently, India has a ‘No Permission-No Take off’(NPNT) clause, which implies that drone cannot be operated in Indian skies unless the regulatory permission is received through the Digital Sky Platform. Users will be required to do a one time registration for drones, pilots and owners. Before every flight they will have to require permission from a mobile application and an automated process will grant or deny the permission instantly.
The drones or the unmanned aerial vehicles are still considered as an emerging technology. People find drones scary as tiny cameras roaming around them hampering their security as well as privacy. Inspite of being such a huge advancement in today’s technology drones need to be constantly regulated as they can not only invade the personal security but also prove to a threat to nations national and international security. There are about forty startups active in India currently. A robust drone industry by startups and manufacturers has the power to help India leapfrog innovation cycles in aviation. Thus, if regulated and used properly drones are the future of taking India’s aviation to the next level.While India has drafted a world leading drone policy framework, formalizing the use of drones will need synchronized efforts of the policy makers and industry for practical and secure implementation across the country.
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