Unmanned Aircraft System Rules, 2020 

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The Ministry of Civil Aviation notified the draft rules, known as Unmanned Aircraft System Rules, 2020, on June 2 for importing, manufacturing and owning drones as well as for drone ports, or airports for drones. It has invited comments from stakeholders within 30 days, following which the rules will be finalised. 

  • The Centre has notified draft rules prohibiting “carriage of payload” as well as “dropping of articles” by unmanned aerial vehicles. 
  • The rules come at a time the DGCA has permitted food startups like Zomato and Swiggy to conduct trials for drones beyond the visual line of sight (BVLOS). 

Key features of the Unmanned Aircraft System Rules, 2020 (Draft) 

  • The rules look set to allow beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations and bring drone traders under its ambit. 
  • Anyone in the business — manufacturer, importer, trader, owner or operator — must take approval from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). 
  • An importer or manufacturer can sell drones only to an authorised trader or owner. The draft rules propose establishing dedicated drone ports and corridors in permitted areas, which have not been specified. Licenses will have to be obtained for operations. 
  • A drone can capture images as long as it is not flying over non-permissible areas and after “ensuring the privacy of an individual and his property”. 
  • The DGCA will have the powers to inspect a manufacturing or maintenance facility before granting any authorisation. 
  • Operators must have a third party insurance policy, while they will carry only such materials as permitted by the DGCA. 
  • Only nano class drones, which are less than 250 grams, will be allowed to operate. 
  • A “qualified remote pilot” will be permitted to operate the heavier drones. 
  • The draft rules have three categories of drones: Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS), Model Remotely Piloted Aircraft System and Autonomous Unmanned Aircraft System. 
  • Unmanned aircraft are further classified on the basis of maximum all-up-weight, including payload, as nano (up to 250 gram); micro (250 gram to 2 kg); small: (2-25 kg); medium (25-150 kg) and large (over 150 kg). 
  • The draft has made it very clear that no drone in India will be allowed to fly without a Unique Identification Number (UIN). 
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