Who doesn’t love those awesome aerial video shots on your favourite YouTube videos. Drone shots inject life in an otherwise dull video. And I’m sure at least once you would have thought of purchasing a drone for yourself. Maybe not the professional ones like the DJI Phantom and stuff. But you surely want to fly a drone. And DJI heard your wish and came up with two trimmed down version of drones – DJI Spark and DJI Mavic Pro. Both these drones are small and handy but have all the advanced features from their beefier counterparts.In the recent times, there has been a lot of confusion about importing and flying drones in India. There have been a handful of folks who have sneaked a drone in India while there are others whose drones have been held by the customs.
To clear the air around the Drone Laws in India, the DGCA has come up with a detailed 37 page rule book that answers all the questions that you might have regarding flying drones in India. Not only that it classifies different types of drones, flying regulations and much more. These rules will come into effect from December 1, 2018. So you have some time to gear up. You can find the entire document here. But in this post, I’ll simplify the Drone Laws in India. Below are a few commonly asked questions about Drones in India.
Who can fly a drone in India ?
Any person who is above the age of 18 and a citizen of India can fly a drone. However, the latest Drone Laws in India say that the pilot needs to be trained in various aspects of unmanned flying. There are various courses mentioned that one needs to take up before you can apply for a license to fly a drone.
Do I need any training to fly a drone ?
Yes, as per the drone laws in India that will be enforced from December 1, 2018,any person who wants to register and fly a drone needs to attend a 5 day course. This 5 day training will be conducted at any DGCA recognised flying school and will cover theory and practical subjects. These subjects include basic radio telephony, flight planning and ATC procedures, regulations and no-fly zone awareness.
What kind of Drones can I fly ?
The latest draft drone laws in India differentiate drones into the following categories:
- Nano – less than 50 g
- Micro – more than 250 g and up to 2 kg
- Small – more than 2 kg and up to 25 kg
- Medium – more than 25 kg and up to 150 kg
- Large – more than 150 kg
Can I now import a drone in India ?
Yes, you can now legally import drones in India from anywhere. However you need prior approvals before you can do that. One needs to get a Unique Identification Number for your drone along with a Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit (UAOP). All types of drones except the nano category wants you to have a UIN and UAOP number. You need to provide photo id cards, clearance certificates from Department of Telecommunications / MHA. before you apply for importing a drone. You can find more details in the Annexes of the draft.
Do I need a license to fly a Drone in India ?
Yes, as mentioned above you need to obtain a UIN or UOAP to fly a drone in India. The application can be submitted to DGCA for approvals. However there are a few exceptions to this. Drones falling in the nano category flying in uncontrolled airspace don’t need any permit. Also Micro drones operating below 200ft in uncontrolled air space would need no UOAP but you need to inform the local police 24 hours before the actual operation.
Where can I fly a drone in India ?
A nano / micro drone can be flown anywhere in an uncontrolled airspace or indoors. However you cannot fly a drone in the following areas:
- 5 Km radius around the airports in Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Bengaluru.
- Within 3 km radius around of any civil, private or defence airport
- Within 25 km from border – LOC, LAC
- Beyond 500 m from the coastline
- Within 5 km radius from Vijay Chowk in Delhi
Are there specific times when I can fly a drone in India ?
Yes, the draft drone laws in India list out the timings and places you can fly your drone in. You should fly a drone only in daylight and with a minimum ground visibility of 5 km. Also you need to ensure that the surface winds are not more than 10 knots. One needs to ensure that there is no rain, snow or hail while flying a drone. These are mandatory rules which apply to flying drones in India in uncontrolled airspace. No restrictions are in place if you fly a drone within enclosed premise.
Do I need to inform anyone before flying a drone ?
Yes, if you are flying a micro drone under 200ft, you need to inform the local police 24hrs before you actually operate the drone.
How much does it cost to fly a drone in India ?
If you are planning to fly a nano drone, you probably need to shell out Rs 1000 in order to obtain the Unique Identification Number for your drone. However if you intend to fly bigger and smarter drones in India, you need to shell out up to Rs 25,000 to obtain an Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit. To add to this, you also need to pay a renewal fee of Rs 10,000 !
What if I crash a drone ? Do I need to inform anyone ?
Yes, as per the new laws, you will have to inform the accident to the Directory of Air Safety, DGCA in a format prescribed in Annexure 8 of the draft law.
So these were some of the common questions that you might have regarding drone laws in India. The drone law is still in the draft phase however this will be implemented from December 1, 2018. As per the guidelines, (which are very strict) I wonder if there’s any decent drone in the nano category ? Both the DJI Spark and DJI Mavic pro fall in the micro category which you require a UIN and UAOP. Moreover, decent drones with advanced features do cost some money and with the permit itself being Rs 25,000 I wonder how many would actually apply for it ! What do you think ? Would you still fly a drone in India legally ? What are your thoughts on the drone laws in India ? Share your views in the comments below or tweet to me at @Atulmaharaj