One often comes across those beautiful and cinematic aerial shots of sceneries, forests and mountains, which is mostly this footage is captured through drones. Amongst other applications of these Remotely Piloted Aircrafts (RPA) or Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) such as Geographical Mapping, Agriculture Assistance, Forest and wildlife Assistance and Law Enforcement, Filming and Cinematography are one of the more popular segments in which these devices are used. However, there are some laws and rules known as CAR (Civil Aviation Regulations), which the Regulatory body of Civil Aviation has designed in these rules that one must need to know before they send their device into the air.
- Categories of RPA’s
These Aircrafts are broadly divided into 5 categories by the DGCA and different set of rules apply on each category of device.
- Nano: Less than or equal to 250 grams.
- Micro: Greater than 250 grams and less than or equal to 2 kg.
- Small: Greater than 2 kg and less than or equal to 25 kg.
- Medium: Greater than 25 kg and less than or equal to 150 kg.
- Large: Greater than 150 kg
- A requirement of a permit and License
The DGCA guidelines or the CAR, instructs that people who wish to fly a drone require a permit, which is also known as the UNMANNED AIRCRAFT OPERATOR PERMIT (UAOP). However, there are certain exceptions to this requirement in the following conditions and scenarios:
- Nano RPA operating below 50 feet (15 m) AGL in uncontrolled airspace / enclosed premises.
- Micro RPA operating below 200 feet (60 m) AGL in uncontrolled airspace / enclosed premises. However, the user shall intimate to the local police office 24 hours before the conduct of actual operations.
- RPAs owned/operated by NTRO(National Technical Research Organization), ARC(Aviation Research Centre) and Central Intelligence Agencies
An individual or a Remote pilot who doesn’t fall into these above-mentioned categories need certain documents and need to fill out certain forms in order, through the Digital Sky Portal, to receive a permit to fly the drone. This documentation includes
- Duly filed form as prescribed in Annexure 6 of the CAR, ‘APPLICATION FOR ISSUE/ RENEWAL OF UNMANNED AIRCRAFT OPERATOR PERMIT (UAOP)’.
- Documents defining the SOP, as prescribed in the para 12 of CAR
- Details of the remote pilot(s) along with security clearance from MHA or self-attested copies of at least two out of three valid identity proofs viz. Passport, Driving License or Aadhar Card and copies of training records.
For more details, one can refer to para 7 of the CAR.
- Registering the Drone
All the drone owners need to get a Unique Identification Number (UIN) issued for their drone. This helps in identifying the device and doesn’t affect the commercial & military flights or air traffic operations. However in the following circumstances, one doesn’t need to do it:
- RPA in Nano category intended to fly up to 50 feet (15 m) AGL in uncontrolled airspace/ enclosed premises for commercial/recreational / R&D purposes
- RPAs owned/operated by NTRO (National Technical Research Organization), ARC(Aviation Research Centre) and Central Intelligence Agencies don’t require UIN for their devices.
One can refer to paragraph 6 of the CAR guidelines for the exact details and requirements for the UIN and then register themselves at the Digital Sky Platform.
4. Flying Restrictions
While the exact restrictions vary in different states and different circumstance, which can be crosschecked by checking the Digital Sky platform before flying the drone, there are some general restrictions which one needs to keep in mind.
- One cant the RPA near the 5km Radius of any Domestic/Military Airport
- RPA’s can’t fly near the country’s Border or LOC’s or LAC’s
- RPA’s can’t fly beyond 500mts into the sea
- RPA’s can’t fly in eco-sensitive zones and areas which have a tightened security( near Vijay Chowk or any military posting)
While all care has been taken so that all the information provided in this blog is correct, however, it is advised to refer to these CAR rules issued by the DGCA and the updated rules, which are released here and on the DGCA website.