The new Drone Rules of 2021 & the Legal Framework governing Drones & Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV’s) in India
Technological advancements and scientific progression do mark a catapulted growth for a country. Use of drones and other similar Unmanned aircraft systems is landmark for Indian scientific growth and is exigent for the development of various sectors of the economy. Drones, as pe the Drone Rules 2021, refers to any Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS). The definition of the same does entail a widespread connotation and must be inferred in a manner, that encourages operators and pilots to use the technology liberally, while, in the meantime must protect and preserve the integrity and security of India. Prior to the enactment of Drone Rules 2021, the use of such technology was regulated by Unmanned aircraft system rules (UAS), 2021 which came into place on March 12, 2021. With spate of incidences in the borders of India and the issues of privacy meandering around, the government of India realized the need to draft and implement rules to regulate and govern the usage of drones and such similar technologies in India.
The Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Rules that were introduced a little earlier this year, were considered restrictive and somehow circumscribed the foreign investments in this regard. With further studies it was understood the need to mend the drone policy in such a way that facilitated investments, which in turn enhance the economy and which could preserve the rights, privileges, and security of the Indian nationals, in corollary. In furtherance of the same, a new amended rule was introduced recently, which are much more liberalized and are considered to be the pavement of increased technological development. The Drone Rules 2021 are the vanguards in upcoming innovations and business and would hail new technologies in this regard. Further it will strengthen the IT sector of India which will further facilitate foreign investments and shall encourage the employment for the youth.
The new Drone Rules of 2021 & the Legal Framework governing Drones & Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV’s) in India are:
The Drone Rules 2021 are divided into 12 Parts entailing 55 Sections, each describing rules unique to flying of drones in India. These Rules is universal and is applicable all throughout India amongst all persons whosoever owns or possess a drone or is engaged in leasing, operating, transferring, or maintaining all unmanned aircraft system in India. This section of the Article provides a brief overview of the Drone Rules, 2021.
Part-I: Preliminary Sections
As per the common parlance of a man, the Part I of any law primarily deals with the questions of scope, applicability and definitions surrounding the particular law. Similarly, under this part, scope, application, and definitions are dealt with. As far as the application of this law is concerned, the rule applies to all persons who owns or is in possession of drones or is engaged in leasing, operating, transferring, or maintaining any unmanned aircraft system in India. Further, the rule also applies to all kinds of Unmanned aircraft systems registered in India and are being operated for the time being in or over India. This is provided under Section 2 of the Drone Rules, 2021. However, it is important to understand that these rules are applicable to only those unmanned aircraft systems that do not weigh more than 500 kg. In addition, unmanned aircraft systems belonging to armed forces, navy or air forces of India shall be exempted from these rules.
Part-II: Classification of Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS)
Part – II of the Drone’s Rules, 2021, primarily deals with the classification of unmanned aircraft systems allowed to be registered under these Rules. As per the rules, aircraft systems such as -:
f) Hybrid Unmanned Aircraft System
Further sub -categorized into -:
iv) Remotely Pilot Aircraft Systems
v) Model Remotely Pilot Aircraft Systems
vi) Autonomous Unmanned Aircraft Systems
Shall be liable for registration under these Rules.
This part also provides classification based upon weights which can be referred under Section 5 of the Drone Rules, 2021.
Part-III: Rules for Certification
One of the most important categories of this law, Part -III deals with the rules for certification for unmanned aircraft systems. These rules can be referred through Sections 6-13 of the Rules. According to the general rule, an unmanned aircraft system cannot be operated unless it conforms to a type certificated provided under these rules or are exempted from procuring a type certificate as provided under these rules. Rules with regard to standard for certification along with type certification and other related rules are mentioned under Sections 7-13. While referring to the section, there is no requirement of any type certificate for manufacturing or importing an unmanned aircraft system.
The following section states that, for registration of Unmanned aircraft systems, 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 conforms to.
Part-V: Operation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)
These are the operative part of the rules, which deals on regulating the movement of the unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). All the registered unmanned aircraft systems must comport with the rules as they help determine the eligibility of each protype in reference to its sizes and zones. This Part is divided into 11 Sections, defining, and determining the zones where the classified unmanned aircraft systems can operate. As per these Rules, the central government is conferred with the responsibilities to segregate and inform through the digital sky platform an airspace map for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) into red, yellow, and green zone, with a horizontal resolution equal or finer than 10 meters.
Further, it is exigent to understand that this rule strictly prohibits the carriage of arms, ammunition, explosives, and military stores etc., except with the written permission of central government in special cases. In addition to this, carrying dangerous goods is also prohibited unless it is in compliance with the Aircraft (Carriage of Dangerous Goods) Act, 2003. On event of an accident, it becomes mandatory to report the same within 48 hours to the Director General through Digital Sky Platform.
Part-VI: Remote Pilot License
This section of the part says that individuals other than the holder of a valid remote license enlisted on the digital sky platform shall only be allowed to operate the unmanned aircraft system (UAS). The main purpose of the Remote Pilot License is to mention category, sub-category and classification of the unmanned aircraft system or a combination of these for which it has been issued. Further a person who is between 18 – 65 years of age and has qualified class 10th or equivalent board examination and has successfully completed a training as specified by the director general from any authorized remote pilot training organization is eligible for obtaining a Remote Pilot License. However, there is no need for obtaining a Remote Pilot License for operating a Nano Unmanned Aircraft System or Micro Unmanned Aircraft System. Rules regarding validity and procedure for obtaining Remote Pilot License are mentioned under Section 35 and Section 36, respectively.
Part-VII: Remote Pilot Training Organization
Following the previous part, this section of the article deals with the organization authorized to impart remote pilot training and the rules associated with it. The Remote Pilot Training Organization must meet with the eligibility criteria, as specified by the director general. The training organization must ensure the strict compliance of requirements, as specified by the director general, in relation to the training, syllabus, infrastructure, instructors, proficiency testing and issuance of remote pilot certificates. The training requirement is specific to the category, sub-category, and classification of the unmanned aircraft system. The rules for part VII are provided in Sections – 37-41.
Part-VIII: Unmanned Aircraft Systems for Research, Development and Training
Persons who are involved in any research and development under the control or recognition of the central government or state government or union territory administration or belong to any educational institutions controlled or recognized by central or state-run government or union territory administration or are involved in any startups recognized by the Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade and are authorized testing entity or are the manufacturer of an unmanned aircraft system having a goods and tax identification number aren’t required to acquire a type certificate , prior permission or remote pilot licensing or unique identification number for operating unmanned aircraft systems for research , development and training process. Such operations must happen in the green zones. This rule is provided under Section 42 of the Drone Rules, 2021.
Part-IX: Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management
This section simply states that, after publication of these rules, the central government is supposed to publish a policy framework in respect of unmanned aircraft system traffic management system on the digital sky platform. This intended policy must conform with the rules as enlisted in this legislation. Section 43 provides a clear insight on the same.
For the Part of Insurance, this Section 44 states that, the provisions of Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 and the rules thereunder will apply to the third-party insurance of Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) and compensation in case of damage to life or property caused by such an unmanned aircraft system. As an exception to this rule, nano drones shall not require a third-party insurance. A person who is operating the unmanned aircraft system must use the insurance product specifically designed for such operations. Also, this insurance product must be approved by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India.
Part-XI: Unmanned Aircraft System Promotion
Section 45 of the rules calls for the establishment of an ‘Unmanned Aircraft Systems Promotion Council’ which shall be created by the central government with the purpose of promoting the adoption and use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). This council is conferred with the purpose of facilitating development of a business-friendly regulatory regime that should include the concept of automated permissions. Similarly, it should facilitate the establishment of incubators and other necessary facilities needed for the development of these technologies and must include industry experts and academic institutions for policy advice. In addition, it should also engage in organizing competitive events for unmanned aircraft systems and counter-unmanned aircraft system technologies.
Part-XII: Miscellaneous Provisions
This section deals with various other miscellaneous provision that were independent and couldn’t be categorized into a single bracket. These provisions deal with the question of fees, penalties, directions to the central government, power of authorities, cancellation, or suspension of licenses etc. The provisions are categorized under Sections 46-55 of the Drone Rules, 2021. When a person fails to comply with the provisions of the Rules, he may be fined with rupees 1 lakh. However, sturdy weather or other unavoidable circumstances can be used as a defense for compounding of the offence committed.
The Drone Rules 2021 is a fulcrum, meteoric legal framework that is conducive for the growth of the country in the areas of innovation and technology. The rules supersede all the previous legislations in relation to the unmanned aircraft systems. With amendments in important facets of these laws, the rules do cater to increase the economic activity and facilitates foreign investments in India. These rules are youth centric i.e., would cater to the needs of youth in terms of increased opportunities and employment and will provide an equal chance of honing their technological skills. With the implementation of these rules, businesses and companies involved in this area will be provided with the apt platform to represent their services and reap the benefits as such.
Authored By: Adv. Anant Sharma & Anchita Saxena