India’s aviation safety regulator has for the first time brought drones under its radar.
A draft circular issued by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Friday looks at plugging the grey area over use of unmanned aircraft (UA) in Indian skies. In the absence of guidelines, there have been many safety scares sparked off by drones straying into the flight path of passengers’ planes, but the police were unable to book offenders, said officials.
The DGCA has invited feedback on the circular for a month, after which it will become a civil aviation requirement or an aviation regulation. “We had received many complaints of drones being flown close to airports. Now, people using UAs will have to be aware of the multiple permissions needed to be taken and the police will get a rulebook to charge offenders,” said a DGCA official.
Just like every aircraft has a registration number, drones will get a unique identification number, read the circular. Companies using these devices will have to procure a UA operator permit. Foreigners will not be eligible for this permit, it added. “The applications for these permits will go through massive scrutiny because drone operations could pose a huge security threat,” said another DGCA official. The regulator has also put an age cap on people permitted to fly drones, as manufacturing of UAs is part of practical curriculum of many engineering colleges. “Children seem to fly drones as a fun activity, so an age restriction for issuing permits is essential,” said an independent air safety expert.
Among other primary requirements, UA operators will have to take prior permissions from security agencies, local police and follow notice to airmen (NOTAM) issued by the air traffic control (ATC) towers for operating drones.