In a crucial step to give more wings to India’s evolving drone policy, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has got the nod from Finance Ministry to set up a dedicated Drones Directorate.
The sole focus of the directorate will be on managing India’s drones ecosystem.
In a LinkedIn post, Amber Dubey, joint secretary at the Civil Aviation Ministry announced the decision. “The Directorate had been established with eight DGCA officials, to begin with and will be expanded with time. This was a pleasant surprise since, under the Covid-19 austerity measures, the formation of any new government department is being discouraged, unless really important. One more baby step towards making India the drone capital of the world,” Dubey said.
Currently, it’s unclear who the eight members of this department are. The directorate will have its own financial budget. The announcement was first reported by Medianama.
The directorate is likely to look into delays to roll out no permission, no takeoff (NPNT) support, manage drone training schools and approve third-party drone certification scheme to fast track drone certification in the country.
In June this year, the ministry of civil aviation has published the draft Unmanned Aircraft System Rules, 2020.
The draft prohibited carriage of payload and the dropping of articles by unmanned aerial vehicles. The draft says, “No Unmanned Aircraft shall carry any payload, save, as specified by the director-general.”
This means that the plans for facilitating deliveries of hyperlocal delivery service providers Dunzo, Swiggy and others may hit the roadblock, at least for now. Meanwhile, the draft has set up a maximum speed limit for drones at 15 metres/second. The drones are only allowed to fly at a maximum height of 15 meters and within the range of 100 meters from the remote pilot.
In September, Prof Ashutosh Sharma, secretary to the government (Ministry of Science and Technology) had announced that the government had plans to map the entire country in a project which is expected to cost INR 1000 Cr. “The need to have a digital map of India was felt as it would enable better decision making in the government. The map will have all types of records including land details, socio-economic data, road network, etc,” Sharma said explained.
According to global market intelligence and advisory firm BIS Research, the Indian UAV market will reach $885.7 Mn by 2021, while the global market size will touch $21.47 Bn.
According to the rules set by the ministry, drones might soon get approval to do beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations. The rules also bring drone traders under the ambit of the aviation ministry.