Aviation ministry passes Drone Rules, 2021

The Centre on Thursday announced a new drone policy. Under the Drone Rules 2021, the coverage of drones increased from 300 kg to 500 kg, and will include heavy payload-carrying drones and drone taxis.

Besides, the new drone rules remove security clearance before any registration or licence issuance. Under the new rules, a draft of which was released in July, several requirements and approvals have been abolished and this is expected to make drone operations simpler for civilian drone operators. In addition, fees for these licenses have has been reduced significantly. The government had announced the new drone rules on July 15 and invited comments from stakeholders and the industry till August 5. Based on the feedback, the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) said it decided to repeal the UAS Rules, 2021 and replace the same with the liberalised Drone Rules, 2021. The Aviation ministry had published UAS Rules, 2021 in March. The new rules were lauded by stakeholders for simplifying procedures and reducing the compliance burden to operate a drone in India. Drone corridors will be developed for cargo deliveries, and coverage of drones has been increased from 300 kg to 500 kg to include heavy payload-carrying drones and drone taxis, or air taxis.

The need for rehashing the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Rules 2021 issued just four months ago after lengthy consultations with stakeholders possibly reflects the drone community’s disappointment with the older rules that threatened to drown the drones with over-regulation. The Civil Aviation Ministry has also reduced forms that need to be filled to operate drones – from 25 to five – and decreased types of fees charged from the operator – from 72 to four. Online registration of all drones shall happen through the Digital Sky platform.