Registration Process of Drones & Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in India: Best Corporate Lawyer Advice
“The Government of India has come up with the new Drone Rules of 2021 and the registration process for drones in India and the registration process for UAVs in India has been tweaked and made mandatory in certain cases. Further, the process for registration, de-registration and re-registration has been properly pen down and the entire process has been simplified. There are many startups who have entered or are in the verge of entering this multi dollar drone and UAV manufacturing and their products should be well compliant to these new Drone Rules of 2021. In order to duly comply with these rules proper corporate laegal advice should be obtained from the best corporate legal expert. “
In the milieu of rapid technological advancements, the usage of drone and other similar aerial vehicles are testament to the state-of-the-art developments in a country. Notwithstanding, the multi-pronged benefits of the drone technology, the machinery is manned by individuals, thereby subjecting it to the intentions of those people. Thus, regulating the technology becomes absolutely indispensable. In India, the rules in respect to drones as well as other Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV’s) has been designed to bolster and uplift the It sector, in a way which will reinforce the e-commerce, agriculture, mining, healthcare, logistics as well aid the government in its various projects.
India recognizes the need to strengthen the use of technologies but in the meantime also imposes limitations in certain areas to protect the peace, harmony, and integrity of the nation from any unforeseen incursions. In furtherance of the same, the Ministry of Civil Aviation has recently proposed the amendment in the existing drone rules (also known as Drone Rules 2021) by way of a notification, that is a more liberalized guideline regarding the use of drone technology in India.
Categories of Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) that can be Registered: Best Corporate Lawyer Advice
In order to proceed with the registration, the following categories shall be considered as the Unmanned aircraft systems as per Section 4 of the Drone Rules 2021. It will be essential to note that, only the categories mentioned thereafter is viable for registration under these Rules. These categories are -:
c) Hybrid Unmanned Aircraft System
Further sub -categorized into -:
i) Remotely Pilot Aircraft Systems
ii) Model Remotely Pilot Aircraft Systems
iii) Autonomous Unmanned Aircraft Systems
Categories of Drones permitted for Registration
In order to proceed with the registration processes, it is paramount to understand as to what categories of drones are permitted for use in India. The government has notified certain categories and sizes of drones which can be used by the companies for private purposes. If there are any violations in this regard, the machinery will stand unregistered. Hence, to fly a drone, compliance concerning sizes, becomes obligatory.
The following are the categories that have been listed under the gazette -:
a) Nano Drones- The drones classified under this category must weigh less than or equal to 250 grams. As per the Rules, no license or permit is needed to fly such drones.
b) Micro Drones– The drones classified under this category must weigh greater than 250 grams and less than or equal to 2 kilograms. To fly a micro drone, whether for commercial or non-commercial use, it is imperative to acquire the UAS Operator permit-1 (Uaop-1). This permit exemplifies that the operator/pilot follows the standard operating procedures which is prepared by the authorized UAI operator and accepted by the Directorate general of civil aviation.
c) Smaller Drones- Under this category drones weigh greater than 2kg and equal to 25kg. Akin to micro drones, it is important to acquire UAS operator permit -1 (Uaop-1). The drone pilots are required to follow the standard operating procedures as approved by the director general of civil aviation. Under the case of micro drones as well as nano drones, the permit will allow the operation of such drones limited to the visual line of sight without any payload.
d) Medium Drones- As per the guidelines, these are the types of drones that weigh greater than 25kg to 150 kg. To fly medium drones, one must acquire the UAS operator permit-II. In addition, operators for this prototype needs to implement a safety management system as a standard practice for ensuring safe operation. Furthermore, the conditions as imposed by the DGCA must be complied with by the pilot/operator of the drone. The drones of such kind can only be flown after when all the due diligence has been adhered to. As per the guidelines, UAOP -II holders, are also eligible to use micro and small drones to carry goods, subject to operation manual and clearance from DGCA.
e) Large Drones- These are the types of drones that usually weigh more than 150 kg. The requirement with regard to permit and license is the same as of medium drones. To fly large drones, the operator/pilot as to acquire UAS operator permit -II as well. Similarly, operator for this type of drone needs to implement safety management system as well, as a standard practice for ensuring safe operation. In order to fly such kind of drones, the pilot/operator must ensure that it is in congruence with the conditions as laid down by the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). It is important to note that, such kind of drones cannot be flown into closed spaces. They need prior approval from the air traffic and air defense control as well. Finally, as mentioned erstwhile, by virtue of large and medium drones, UAOP-II holders are also permitted to use micro and small drones to carry goods.
Application & Registration of Drones as per Drone Rules 2021
Part IV of the new Drone Rules provides provisions concerning registration of Unmanned aerial vehicles. To begin with, the general rule states that no Unmanned Aerial Vehicle / System (UAV’s) shall be operated without being registered first. Hence, registration becomes a paramount condition for piloting the drones as such. Furthermore, the rules also make it obligatory to obtain a Unique Identification Number (UIN) through Digital Sky Platform. Section 14(3) of the Drone Rules 2021 also makes it mandatory for the operator of the Drone or Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) to ensure its conformity with a valid type certificate. In brief, to operate drones in India it is imperative to procure a ‘Unique Identification Number’(UIN) as well as a ‘Type Certificate’. All the process of registration shall be done through using the web portal–‘Digital Sky Platform’.
Having discussed the general provisions regarding registration, it is now essential to understand the application and registration process as enumerated under Section 15 of the Drone Rules, 2021. The following section states that, for registration of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), a person who is the owner of such machinery must make an application in Form D-2 on the ‘Digital Sky Platform’ and must pay the requisite fee, as enlisted under Rule 46. In addition, the person is also required to provide requisite details of its prototype including the Unique Identification Number (UIN) and the Type Certificate to which such Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) conforms to. It is important to note that, post filing the application and filling the requisite details as mentioned, the ‘Digital Sky Platform’ shall verify the details and issue a Unique Identification Number (UIN) to the applicant. After completion of the procedures, the Unique Identification Number (UIN) of the Unmanned aerial vehicle/system (UAS) then gets linked to the Unique Serial Number (USN) as provided by the manufacturer of the drone. It also gets linked to the Unique Serial Numbers (USN) of its flight control module and remote pilot station.
Clause 4 of Section 15 prohibits users/applicant from replacing the flight control module or Remote Pilot Station of an Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) whose serial number is linked to the Unique Identification Number (UIN) of the device. If required, the person is supposed to update the changed ‘Unique Serial Number’ (USN) of the new flight control module or remote pilot station on the digital sky platform, within a period of seven days from the date of replacement or from before operating such Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), whichever appears to be earlier.
Re-Registration of Drones & Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV’s)
When we talk about registration of existing Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), Section 16 is to be referred, which provides that any person who owns the Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) which is manufactured in India or imported in India on or before 30th November 2021 shall be eligible for registration. The section further provides that, such a person must make an application within a Period of 31 days, after the aforementioned date and obtain a Unique Identification Number (UIN) for the Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) and provide requisite details in Form D-2 on the ‘Digital Sky Platform’ along with the fee as specified in Rule 46.
Upon receiving the application of re-registration, the ‘Digital Sky Platform’ will verify the details and issue a Unique Identification Number (UIN) provided such Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS)–
a) Consists of a valid drone acknowledgement number issued by the ‘Digital Sky Platform’ on or before 30th November 2021
b) Has duly paid the good and service tax and contains an invoice for the same, for the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS).
c) Must be part of the list of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) published on the Digital Sky Platform by the Director General.
Procedure for De-Registration Drones & Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV’s)
According to the provisions as laid down under Section 18 of the Drones Rules 2021 , if the Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) owned by a person is permanently lost or is permanently damaged i.e. incapable of being repaired , then in that case , the person may apply for deregistration of such Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV’s) by submitting an application in Form D-3 on the Digital Sky Platform along with other requisite fee specified under Rule 46. Subsequently, such deregistration will be affected in the registration record maintained by the director general and a transaction number shall be generated on a ‘Digital Sky Platform’.
We can witness a paradigm shift in the use of technologies. Not only it is mounting to become an essential criterion for one’s existence but is imperative to determine a nations outlook, all around the world. Use of drones and other Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) is indispensable for multifarious reasons. Not only it can help in booming various sectors of the economy but can also engender a positive growth in a country. India is vying to become the greatest hub for drones and thus the rules implemented for drones are considered to be the secret sauce for achieving the same. Private ownership for drones, business and other entities can now easily register themselves for the use of drones in a more liberated manner. With easier process of registration, transfer and deregistration of drone rules, individuals are encouraged to use drones copiously. With significant reduction in penalties on violation, the government has inducted a progressive albeit a secured exercise of Unmanned aircraft technology in India. Although rules are less restrictive, one must be assured of its purposes and ensure a bona fide use of drones i.e., it must not violate the fundamental rights of other citizens or endanger the national security of India.
Authored By: Adv. Anant Sharma & Anchita Saxena