Author: Vidhi Goel, B.A LL.B, PG Diploma in IPR
MEANING OF DRONE
Drone means an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS), which is an aircraft that can operate autonomously or can be operated remotely without a pilot on board. There are three subsets of Unmanned Aircraft- Remotely Piloted Aircraft, Autonomous Aircraft and Model Aircraft.
CLASSIFICATION OF DRONE
The Drone Rules, 2021 has classified the drones on the basis of the maximum all-up weight (not more than 500 kilograms), including payload as under:
- Nano drone: Less than or equal to 250 grams;
- Micro drone: Greater than 250 grams and less than or equal to 2 kilograms;
- Small drone: Greater than 2 kilograms and less than or equal to 25 kilograms;
- Medium drone: Greater than 25 kilograms and less than or equal to 150 kilograms; and
- Largedrone: Greater than 150 kilograms.
However, where the weight exceeds 500 kilograms, the provisions of the Aircraft Rules, 1937 shall apply instead of the Drone Rules.
EVOLUTION OF POLICY
A Public Notice 07.10.2014 was issued by India’s civil aviation regulator, the Office of the Director-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), which has been the first Indian Notification on the regulation of drones.
After two years in 2016, a set of draft guidelines were issued by DGCA regarding the use for civilian or recreational purposes. Following a year and a big part of inaction on the past rules, in October 2017, the DGCA delivered another arrangement of rules with the mean to conclude them by month’s end. However, the rules were the simple result of critical need; they don’t display sufficient prescience.
As indicated by the 2016 rules, just Mini and Macro drones should have been flown with Visual Line of Sight (VLOS). 2017 rules did somewhat more inclusion than 2016. 2017 guidelines specified that all UAVs, independent of weight class, are to be flown keeping up with VLOS while the vast majority of the nations force like breaking point on lighter drones, the sweeping inconvenience of VLOS will smother a few employments of drones. Notwithstanding, 2017 rules actually neglect to cover issues, for example, legitimate obligation and import controls and didn’t represent a system guaranteeing the protected tasks of drones at low elevations, nor did they have arrangements for guaranteeing that there is no obstruction by two drones in one another’s activities.
THE DRONE RULES, 2021:
On 25th August 2021, the Central Government promulgated ‘The Drone Rules, 2021’ (hereinafter referred to as “the Rules”),1 replacing the erstwhile Unmanned Aircraft System Rules 2021 (“Prior Rules”), to direct the utilization and activity of Drones or Unmanned Aerial System (“UAS”) in India.
The Rules depend on the standards of “trust, self-certification and non-intrusive monitoring” by lessening the degree of administrative control.
The Rules are applicable on all persons owning or possessing, or engaged in leasing, operating, transferring or maintaining a drone in India and all drones that are registered in India or being operated for the time being, in or over India.
It seeks to regulate only the civilian usage of Drones and does not apply to drones used by the naval, military or air forces of the Union.
DIGITAL SKY PLATFORM
To advance the least human interface, the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation additionally reported the making of a digital sky platform that would fill in as a business-accommodating single-window online framework that grants endorsements to be created naturally.
RELAXATION ON FOREIGN COMPANIES
The Drone Rules of 2021 also encourage the operation/activity of drones approved or endorsed by foreign regulators. The DGCA may likewise give type affirmation to such drones dependent on the endorsements given by foreign regulators. Further, drone exercises by foreign-owned firms registered in India are not limited. Nonetheless, the import of unmanned aircraft systems will be managed by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade.
Under the application cycle, when the necessary details of the individual/association and the drones are presented, the Platform will check the details and issue a UIN to the candidate.
Each UIN of a drone will be connected to the unique serial number given by the manufacturer and the unique serial numbers of its flight control module and ground control station.
Moreover, the exchange of drones through deal, rent, gift, or in any case, is likewise needed to be enlisted with the stage.
The Rules mandate a person who owns a drone, manufactured in India or imported into India on or before the 30th day of November 2021, to make within thirty-one days falling after the said date an application for a UIN.
The Rules empowers the Central Government to segregate the entire airspace of India into three zones- Red, Yellow and Green zones.
The three zones have been defined as follows:
Green Zone (Permissible Zone)
- The airspace of defined dimensions above the land areas or territorial waters of India, up to a vertical distance of 400 feet or 120 metres that has not been designated as a red zone or yellow zone in the airspace map for UAS operations; and
- The airspace is up to a vertical distance of 200 feet or 60 metres above the area located between a lateral distance of 8 kilometres and 12 kilometres from the perimeter of an operational airport.
Yellow zone (Intermediate zone)
- The airspace of defined dimensions above the land areas or territorial waters of India within which UAS operations are restricted and shall require permission from the concerned air traffic control authority.
- The airspace above 400 feet or 120 metres in the designated green zone and the airspace above 200 feet or 60 metres in the area located between the lateral distance of 8 kilometres and 12 kilometres from the perimeter of an operational airport.
Red Zone (No-Fly Zone)
The airspace of defined dimensions, above India’s land areas or territorial waters, or any installation or notified port limits specified by the Central Government beyond the territorial waters of India, within which UAS operations shall be permitted only by the Central Government.
The Rules require third party insurance of drones for compensation if there should be an occurrence of harm to life or potentially property brought about by a UAS/drone. Insurance cover must be taken as per Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 and rules made thereunder, which will apply mutatis mutandis.
No third party insurance is required for the operation of a nano unmanned aircraft system.
OFFENCES & PENALTIES
Under the Rules of 2021, it is a punishable offence to contravene any of them.
However, where there is a contravention or failure to comply with the Rules which is proved to have been caused due to factors or circumstances, such as the stress of weather or other unavoidable cause or circumstances, beyond the control of such person or without his knowledge or fault, the Rules creates a defence, in such cases.
Any contravention may also attract a penalty of up to a maximum of one lakh rupees under Section 10A Aircraft Act, 1934.
Furthermore, as per the Rules, the DG has been empowered to cancel or suspend any licence, certificate, authorisation or approval granted where there is a contravention of the Rules of 2021.
Project Agreement between India & USA:
India and the US have reported the consenting to of a Project Arrangement (PA) for an air-dispatched uncrewed elevated vehicle (ALUAV) under the Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) drive.
The most recent Project Agreement falls under the Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation (RDT&E) reminder of arrangement (MOA) between the Indian Ministry of Defense (MoD) and the US Department of Defense (DoD).
The main Memorandum of Agreement was endorsed in January 2006 and further reestablished in January 2015.
The venture is esteemed at about $22m, which is to be similarly divided among India and US.
The prime associations serving for the execution of the venture Agreement are the Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) at Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO), the Aerospace Systems Directorate at the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), just as the Indian and US Air Forces.
The New Rules are no question a monster jump forward for the drone area in India. Long stretches of meetings between the Government and different partners have, in the end, discovered its direction into substantial guidelines, and the drone area has been altered significantly as a result.
There are a few sources of concern in the New Rules of 2021:
If the drones continue to be operated without any adequate legal backing, they may pose distinct security threats. They can be put to dangerous use, to ram into basic targets, annihilate foundation, etc.
The rules and regulations relating to drones (UAS) do not apply to the navy, army or the airforce. However, these rules are still applicable to the paramilitary forces.
Drones are somewhat less expensive in contrast with customary weapons but still, they can accomplish undeniably more damaging outcomes which is the essential justification for an expanded number of drone attacks.
Disclaimer: The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the Author and not to the Jurisedge Academy.
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 Rule 3(i) of the Drone Rules, 2021.
Rule 2(2) of the Drone Rules, 2021.
Rule 5 of the Drone Rules, 2021.
Supra Note 2.
Available at https://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2021/229221.pdf .
 Rule 2(1) of the Drone Rules, 2021.
 Rule 2(3) of the Drone Rules, 2021.
 Rule 10 of the Drone Rules, 2021.
 Rule 11 of the Drone Rules, 2021.
 Unique Identification Number.
 Rule 14 (1) of the Drone Rules, 2021.
 Rule 15 (2) of the Drone Rules, 2021.
 Rule 15(3) of the Drone Rules, 2021.
 Rule 17 (1) of the Drone Rules, 2021.
 Rule 16(1) of the Drone Rules, 2021.
 Rule 3 (l) of the Drone Rules, 2021.
 Rule 3(l) of the Drone Rules, 2021.
 Rule 22 (1) of the Drone Rules, 2021.
 Rule 22 (2) of the Drone Rules, 2021.
Rule 44 of the Drone Rules, 2021.
 Rule 49 (1) of the Drone Rules, 2021.
 Rule 49 (3) of the Drone Rules, 2021.
 Rule 50 of the Drone Rules, 2021.
 Rule 53 of the Drone Rules, 2021.
 The Drone Rules, 2021.