Remotely piloted aircraft (RPAs) and unmanned aircraft (drones) are governed by the Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) issued by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) from time to time. At the time of drafting, the relevant regulations that deal with RPAs and unmanned aircraft are (i) CAR section 3 - Air Transport Series - X Part 1 Issue I dated 29 August 2018; (ii) AIP Supplement 164 of 2018 issued by the Airports Authority of India dated 30 November 2019 and (iii) the DGCA RPAS Guidance Manual issued on 3 June 2019 by the DGCA.
1. What is a drone and UAS?
Drone is a layman terminology for Unmanned Aircraft (UA). There are three subsets of Unmanned Aircraft, a) Remotely Piloted Aircraft, b) Autonomous Aircraft and c) Model Aircraft.
An aircraft and its associated elements, which are operated with no pilot on board is called as Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS).
2. What is Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) and its categories?
RPAS is one subset of UAS. A remotely piloted aircraft (RPA), its associated remote pilot station(s), the required command and control links and any other components, as specified in the type design.
Civil RPA is categorized in accordance with MTOW (including payload) as indicated below:
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.
3. What does Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) mean, and when the same on Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) will be effective?
Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) is a set of regulations issued by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). The CAR on RPAS shall be effective from 1st December, 2018.
4. What is Digital Sky Platform, and when it will be operational?
It is an online IT platform developed for handling UIN, UAOP applications, permission to fly RPAs in India. The link shall be available in Homepage of DGCA websitewww.dgca.nic.in, and it will be operational from 1st December, 2018.
5. What are the requirements for import of RPAs (with or without camera) in India?
Any entity intending to import RPAS in India shall obtain Equipment Type Approval (ETA) from WPC Wing, Department of Telecommunication for operating in de-licensed frequency band(s). Such approval shall be valid for a particular make and model.
.— No person other than an authorised unmanned aircraft system owner shall own an unmanned aircraft system in India.
The applicant, other than Nano category, shall apply to DGCA along with ETA for import clearance. Based upon the import clearance issued by DGCA, DGFT shall issue license for import of RPAS.
No unmanned aircraft system shall be used or operated or transferred to any other person in India unless it is registered with the Director General and it has a certificate of conformance issued either by an authorised importer or manufacturer. No unmanned aircraft system shall be used or operated or transferred to any other person in India unless it is registered with the Director General and it has a certificate of conformance issued either by an authorised importer or manufacturer.
6. What is NPNT and how do I comply with that?
NPNT or ‘No Permission – No Take-off” is a software programme that enables every RPA (except Nano) to obtain a valid permissions through digital sky platform before operating in India. Please contact your OEM/ Manufacturer for complying with this requirement.
7. What is controlled and uncontrolled airspace?
Controlled airspace is airspace of defined dimensions within which ATC services are provided.
Uncontrolled airspace is airspace where an Air Traffic Control (ATC) service is not necessary or cannot be provided for practical reasons.
8. I am intending to locally purchase one RPA operating in de-licensed frequency band, should I still require ETA from WPC Wing, DoT?
ETA from WPC Wing is required for all wireless equipment working in de-licensed frequency band(s) in India. Ensure to get ETA from the seller or manufacturer of RPA which is required to be uploaded while applying for UIN.
9. Where can I find the filing instructions for UIN/ UAOP etc.?
Instructions for filing all applications online shall be available in Digital Sky Manual. The Manual will be available in DGCA website homepagewww.dgca.nic.in, and also in the Digital Sky portal homepage. The Digital sky manual shall be available in the above mentioned website from 1st December, 2018.
10. I am a foreigner and want to fly RPAs in India. What are the permission do I require?
Foreigners are currently not allowed to fly RPAs in India. For commercial purpose, they need to lease RPAS to an Indian entity who in-turn will obtain Unique Identification Number (UIN) and UAOP from DGCA.
11. What is UIN?
UIN is unique identification number issued by DGCA for a particular RPA (except Nano).
12. How much is the fees for UIN & UAOP?
For UIN: - Nano: Rs 100/-
Micro: Rs 200/-
Small: Rs 500/-
Medium: Rs 1000/-
Large: Rs 2000/-
For fresh UAOP:- Micro: Rs 2,000/- Small: Rs 5,000/- Medium: Rs 10,000/- Large: Rs 25,000/-
For Renewal of UAOP:- Fifty percent of the fee payable.
13. Where do I pay fees for UIN and UAOP for RPA?
You will be prompted for payment through payment Gateway in the Digital Sky Platform.
The link for paying the fees is need to mention the transaction receipt number and upload copy of the payment receipt in Digital Sky Platform at the time of your application.
14. What is UAOP?
UAOP is Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit.
15. Who all are required to obtain UAOP?
All operators other than exempted categories mentioned below are required to obtain UAOP from DGCA:-
RPA operated by NTRO, ARC, and Central Intelligence Agencies.
16. What is the validity of UAOP?
17. How do I report an incident or accident?
The operator of all RPA except Nano RPA will notify any incident/accident involving RPA to the Director of Air Safety, DGCA through Digital Sky Platform.
18. My RPA is completely broken. Can I use its UIN for another RPA of same make and model?
No. The operator has to apply for fresh UIN.
19. I have a micro RPA engaged in wedding photography, what permission do I need to keep doing it legally.
You need to obtain UIN.
You will not require an UAOP if you are flying your RPA below 200 ft (60m) AGL in uncontrolled airspace/ enclosed premises. However, you shall intimate the local police office at least 24 hours prior to conduct of actual operations.
Your RPA needs to NPNT compliant and you have to obtain permission through digital sky before flying.
20. Do I require remote pilot license to fly RPA?
21. What are the minimum requirements and eligibility for becoming a remote pilot for flying RPAs?
You should have attained 18 years of age, having passed 10th exam in English, and undergone training at DGCA approved flying training organisation (FTO)
22. Can I use my small RPA for agricultural purpose?
RPAS can be used for agricultural purpose except for the purpose of spraying pesticides until specifically cleared.
23. What are no-RPA zones?
Areas over which flying a RPA is prohibited/ restricted. Please go through the list of RPA zones in Civil Aviation Requirements.
24. Where do I file flight plan? What is the procedure for filing flight plan?
You can file flight plan online through Digital Sky Platform. Procedure for filing flight plan is available in Digital Sky Manual. The link for the Digital Sky Platform/ Manual shall be available in Homepage of DGCA website , and it will be operational from 1st December, 2018.
25. I was travelling and lost my bag along with my RPA. Whom should I contact now?
Please lodge FIR immediately in local police and report occurrence in Digital Sky along with a copy of FIR.